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Auburn BOE 3-26-2019

Auburn Enlarged City School District Superintendent Jeff Pirozzolo speaks during a board of education meeting Tuesday.

AUBURN — Auburn Enlarged City School District Superintendent Jeff Pirozzolo said a representative with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office acknowledged funding discrepancies between Auburn and other districts.

Pirozzolo talked about the conversation during a district board of education meeting Tuesday night. Besides Pirozzolo, district business manager Lisa Green, board vice president Joe Sheppard, board member Ian Phillips and Auburn Teachers Association President Justin Herrling met with Dan Fuller, assistant secretary for education, in Albany earlier Tuesday.

Pirozzolo said the group provided Fuller pieces of data such as the district's foundation aid per pupil compared to that of certain New York small-city school districts comparable to Auburn. Pirozzolo said that out of the other Cayuga County districts, Auburn received the smallest amount of foundation aid per pupil. Foundation aid is the base aid districts receive. Auburn has argued for years that it does not receive the aid it is due. The district also spoke to Fuller about cuts the district has made since 2007, such as the closing of West Middle School in 2011 and staff departures, Pirozzolo said.

"What Mr. Fuller actually said is, 'I appreciate looking at this data. Looking at this data, there is an issue here and we're recognizing that there's an issue by looking at this data,'" Pirozzolo said.

Pirozzolo said he thought the meeting went "very well" and thanked Phillips for setting it up. 

Pirozzolo said Fuller is "going to bring that information" to Jamie Frank, another assistant secretary for education in Cuomo's office. Pirozzolo said that while the governor's budget is expected soon, "I think we're on their radar." 

When Pirozzolo asked Herrling during the board meeting about the meeting with Fuller, he said he was happy to have been there.

"I definitely got the feeling he understands we have an issue, so I don't know if he can do anything, but he's the one to do it, so let's hope," Herrling said.

After the meeting, Pirozzolo said that while he has spoken with the governor's office over the phone, the meeting with Fuller was the district's first face-to-face sit down with someone from the governor's office since he became superintendent. 

"I'm hoping they look at it, whether it's a bill, or whether they look at how they're allocating the foundation aid or the new monies that (are) coming up on the table," Pirozzolo said, adding that he believes funds should be distributed based on need.

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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.

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