Holland Stadium graduation

Auburn High School graduates throw their caps during commencement in 2016 at Holland Stadium. Graduation will move to Emerson Park in 2017 due to construction at the stadium.

Renovations to Holland Stadium at Auburn Junior High School are expected to begin in April, and that means the high school graduation ceremony will be held in a different location.

Jeff Pirozzolo, superintendent of Auburn Enlarged City School District, said he has already booked Deauville Island at Emerson Park for the June 23 graduation ceremony, but he's hoping to get a rental fee waiver from the Cayuga County Legislature. The $750 security deposit and $750 rental fee were not part of the school's budget, and while graduation will be held there either way, Pirozzolo said he figured it was worth asking to have it waived.

Skaneateles High School gets permission from the village board each year to hold graduation at Clift Park. The village said it does not charge the school a fee, but the town's parks department said it does split minimal costs for the lifeguards in the swimming area for when the graduates jump into the lake. 

Pirozzolo sent a letter to Keith Batman, chairman of the Cayuga County Legislature, requesting the waiver, explaining that the island was "one of the only venues in the area that can accommodate such a large ceremony." He added that the school would not consider holding graduation in the gymnasium unless there was inclement weather.

"We're looking at a $4.5 million deficit for next school year, so anywhere we can find savings and cooperate with the community is the reason why we sent the letter," Priozzolo said Friday.

Batman forwarded Pirozzolo's letter to Gary Duckett, superintendent of parks and trails and buildings and grounds. Batman asked that the Parks Commission provide a recommendation on the fee waiver to the Legislature, adding that "we obviously set a precedent with this."

Duckett said commissioners will discuss the waiver and make a recommendation to the Legislature. His personal opinion, he said, is if the county makes an exception for one group, others may want an exception, too. But, he said, the final decision will remain with legislators. 

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Staff writer Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or gwendolyn.craig@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.