AUBURN | Normal business at the Auburn Enlarged City School District's board meeting was interrupted with good news Tuesday night as the board members received word that the district should be getting subtantially more money in state aid for the 2013-2014 school year.
Less than an hour after discussing the preliminary budget for the upcoming academic year, board members got news that the state budget, if approved, will give Auburn roughly an additional $1.8 million in state aid beyond what was proposed in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's state budget. The final budget is being voted on by the state Assembly and Senate this week.
Superintendent Constance Evelyn had previously said throughout the meeting that she was still hoping for good news to come Thursday, when the district was expecting to get the updated numbers.
"I really believe, and have good reason to, that something good will happen," Evelyn said.
The school budget looked at Tuesday night contained the same numbers that business manager Lisa Green had been dealing with this month.
"We know there will be changes, we just don't know what," Green said before hearing what their funding could increase by.
Now, the district will have to look at how to work the additional money into the budget it puts before voters in May.
In the budget worked out so far, the district has been looking at a spending gap of about $2.5 million and had been discussing different alternatives for shrinking that. Possible strategies included a tax levy increase or using money that was previously set aside for prepaid expenditures, such as health insurance, gas, and electric bills, that will no longer be paid in advance this year.
Other possible cost-cutting solutions were proposed that could save the district money in the long run, such as outsourcing more of its industries. School board vice president Jason Lesch suggested that district officials consider looking to outside contractors to do their custodial work, similar to the move that has been done to outsource all transportation positions by the start of the 2013-14 school year.
"Those industries are not our core business," Lesch said. "Our core business is teaching kids and if we can save money somewhere to invest in that, I think it would be worth-while."
Not all board members were in agreement with this suggestion, but Lesch did propose that any moves made to eliminate custodial jobs throughout the district be done over time, following the upcoming retirement of many currently on staff within the next few years to reduce the impact on employees. Evelyn also stated that an in-depth feasibility study would need to be completed, showing how effective outsourcing the custodial work would be, before the school board could make any decisions.