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State legislators representing Cayuga County have formally asked the state Education Department to review the Auburn Enlarged City School District’s “average need” classification in the hopes that a change could bring more state aid.

In a letter to state Education Commissioner John King Thursday, the group of legislators including Assemblyman Gary Finch, R-Springport, state Sen. Michael Nozzolio, R-Fayette, and state Sen. David Valesky, D-Oneida, asked the department to meet with the school district and look at whether or not Auburn should be reclassified as a “high need” district.

Community members traveled to Albany Tuesday and met with state representatives. One of the issues mentioned during the visit was reclassifying Auburn as a high need district, which would allow the district to receive more state aid.

“It is our request, and would be greatly appreciated, if you would meet with representatives of the Auburn City School District to review all the relevant financial data that was used to determine the district’s need status,” the legislators said in their letter. “Although we understand that the level of need is determined by mathematical formula, we believe it is vitally important to ensure that the most complete and accurate information is used to calculate this classification.”

Auburn school board member Jason Lesch, who helped organize the trip to Albany, is pleased the area’s state representatives have requested this meeting.

“It’s great they did this on our behalf and as we understand it better, we can communicate to them what happened to us and hopefully get (the classification) changed in the future,” he said.

According to the state school aid runs for the upcoming fiscal year released Thursday, Auburn will receive $1.34 million more in 2012-13 than the district received in 2011-12. That represents a 4.97 percent increase from year-to-year, not counting building and building reorganization incentive funds. 

Lesch said what the district is looking for is to make sure they are getting their fair share of state funding.

“We’re going to continue this dialogue and work our way up to whoever we can get to to explain what good things we are doing,” he said. “We just want a fair distribution of the monies.” 

Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding

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