Auburn 3-13-2019

Emma Sroka and Makayla Hutchinson, spelling bee winners from Seward Elementary School, lead the Pledge of Allegiance at an Auburn Enlarged City School District Board of Education meeting Tuesday night.

AUBURN — Auburn Enlarged City School District Superintendent Jeff Pirozzolo said he felt good about recent advocacy meetings he had with state representatives and inadvertently learned some interesting information afterward.

Pirozzolo said at a board of education meeting Tuesday that he, assistant superintendent for personnel and operations Jeff Evener, and assistant superintendent for student services Camille Johnson, went to Albany last week to meet with representatives to advocate for the district. The district has argued for years that it does not receive its fair share of state aid.

The district's representatives met with state Sen. Shelley Mayer and Sen. James Seward on March 4 and Sen. Robert Antonacci and Assemblyman Gary Finch on March 5. Pirozzolo said Seward asked him how much the district receives per pupil in foundation aid. Foundation aid is the base aid districts receive from the state. Pirozzolo said that he didn't know the answer right away but after getting a calculator, he said the district receives $7,158 in foundation aid per pupil.

Pirozzolo said he later asked Evener to calculate the foundation aid per pupil received by the small-city school districts in the state that Auburn is comparable to. He said that out of the comparable small school districts they looked at, Auburn had the second lowest foundation aid amount per pupil.

Out of the districts within Cayuga County, Pirozzolo said Auburn received the least amount of foundation aid per pupil. He said that average was a little over $9,000. He said that would be over $7 million worth of revenue that would come to Auburn. He said he plans to use those figures when advocating for the district.

"I'm not looking to get the most money in Cayuga County, but we should at least be getting the average," Pirozzolo said.

Pirozzolo said, however, that the meetings went well. He said afterward that Sen. Pam Helming helped set up the meeting with Mayer. He praised Mayer in particular, saying she was "empathetic and really understands what Auburn was going through and just said that she would really try and help us the best she can."

"That's all I can ask for: Somebody that listens and is going to help advocate for us."

Pirozzolo said these were the best advocacy meetings he's been to since he started attending 12 years ago. 

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