AUBURN — The Auburn Enlarged City School District discussed a possible way to save the jobs of school district employees who work at Cayuga Centers.

Superintendent Jeff Pirozzolo discussed a possible plan at a budget workshop Tuesday night. Any decisions would have to be made at an official board meeting.

Cayuga Centers announced on Feb. 22 that it will be ending its residential treatment program. Pirozzolo said his current plan is to make the 19 district employees who work at Cayuga Centers into long-term substitutes until the end of the school year, which would mean that current long-term substitute employees would lose their jobs instead. He said there would be no salary differences for the Cayuga Center employees. Having the Cayuga Centers staff come into the substitute positions would mean that those with seniority wouldn't be taking the positions of other staff during this school year, which was a possibility discussed at a board meeting on Feb. 27.

"All of our kids would continue to have the same teachers they've had since September," Pirozzolo said.

Pirozzolo said the district is looking into ways it can keep the employees that work at Cayuga Centers on the district's payroll for next year. Krista Martin, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said that under the district's current plans, that the district would be able to retain all but two of the 19 positions.

Lisa Green, the district's business manager, said that the district would lose a minimum of $450,000 to $600,000 if Cayuga Centers staff weren't laid off immediately, as the district bills the counties where the students in the program come from for tuition. Green said that the number will increase the longer staff are kept on. The board opted at that meeting to table voting on the staff cuts.

The workshop also included discussions about the deficit the district is set to face, which would be around $4 million. Green said if the district were to use the $1.3 million from its reserves to reduce the deficit, it would still be left with a shortfall of around $2.6 to $2.7 million. 

The Auburn school district has long argued that it has not received the funding it should get from the state while wealthier districts have received larger boosts in foundation aid. Foundation aid is the base aid districts receive.

Pirozzolo said in January that some districts wealthier than Auburn were set to receive more in foundation aid under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed school aid projections for the 2018-2019 executive budget.

Also, the board of education approved the memorandum of agreement between the district and the Auburn Teachers Association on the incentive at a meeting Feb. 28. Pirozzolo said 16 eligible employees applied for the retirement incentive, but not all of the positions can be cut. Pirozzolo said in an interview with The Citizen Feb. 28 that if 15 or more eligible employees sent in letters of retirement by March 1, the incentive would be $7,500.

Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.