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AUBURN | The $4.1 million deficit the Auburn school district could face for the 2013-14 budget is not as large as 2012-13's, but it's still a daunting figure.

Lisa Green, business administrator for the Auburn Enlarged City School District, made some preliminary estimates at Tuesday's board meeting about the 2013-14 budget, which is projected to be about $64,293,372, a 3.4 percent increase over current spending.

Factoring in a 2 percent tax levy increase, an expected 35 percent increase in mandated funding to the teacher retirement system and a possible decrease in promised state aid due to the downstate's recovery after Superstorm Sandy, plus other variables, Green figured there could be a $4.1 million deficit.

"It's a ... grimmer picture than originally (thought)," she said.

Last year, at one point during the 2012-13 budget planning process, the deficit was $5 million.

In addition to the factors above, Green said the district loses state aid each year it is classified by the state as an average-needs district, which the district has said in recent months is not an accurate classification based on state data.

Green said it could be at least another year before the state changes the classification to high needs, and the district loses between $2 million and $3 million in state aid every year it is incorrectly classified.

Board member Diane Long, who recently visited Auburn High School as a school board representative, said she learned that the high school offers a wide range of college prep courses and activities, as well as 16 career and technical courses at Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES.

"All of that needs to be protected in light of our $4.1 million projected deficit," she said.

After the meeting, Long said the deficit projection is a scary number.

"I think it's not unexpected, but it puts us in a position where we are really going to have to look extremely carefully at the academic programming and see if we can keep the district academically solvent," Long said.

In other news:

• Dr. Rick Timbs, executive director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium, and Charles Borgognoni, executive director of the Central New York School Boards Association, will visit the district and discuss how the state budget impacts area districts, the 2 percent tax cap, state aid and other topics from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 in the Auburn High School auditorium, 250 Lake Ave., Auburn.

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Staff writer Kelly Voll can be reached at 282-2239 or kelly.voll@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter at CitizenVoll.

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