AUBURN | With the annual budget vote approaching, the Auburn Enlarged City School District presented its latest set of numbers Tuesday at the first board meeting since learning of the increase in state aid.
Board members were notified a few weeks ago they would receive an additional $1.8 million from the state toward eliminating the budget deficit for the 2013-14 school year. Because of this additional aid, the district has been able to rework the budget proposal for the upcoming year and focus on adding programs and positions that were cut in the past.
Business manager Lisa Green's latest set of numbers, presented at Tuesday's board meeting, calls for the hiring of one additional elementary level music teacher as one of the extras that was recently added. As pointed out by board member Dia Carbajal, Auburn lost three music teachers in two years — two who retired and were not replaced and one that was cut when West Middle School closed in 2011.
"The kids went from having 45 minutes of music a day to 45 minutes a week," Carbajal said.
The district currently has only one elementary level string teacher that travels to all the grade schools, making it harder for each child to get lesson time.
Superintendent Constance Evelyn also pushed for the addition of another high school technology teacher, something she believes strongly about after discovering the need for a better program.
"We could build a better program instead of just extending the one that we already have," Evelyn said. "Another teacher would diminish the number of students being turned away from the opportunity to take technology classes now."
Evelyn also stressed the need for an additional counseling position at the high school, saying Auburn is well above the national average for students per counselor ratio.
Green also set aside an additional $56,000 for athletics in the new proposal, compared to the 0 percent increase that was previously proposed. The extra money would pay for coaching salaries and equipment for modified sports teams.
With the announcement of additional state aid, the board settled on a tax levy increase of 2.5 percent, down from the 2.9 percent that was previously proposed before the revised state budget. This increase would generate just under $700,000 in 2013-14.
The news of more state aid had many board members celebrating, hopeful there are good things to come.
"We're headed in the right direction," Green said.
Voting on the finalized budget is scheduled for May 21.