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AUBURN — Voters in the Auburn Enlarged City School District turned out a longtime school board member Tuesday and welcomed a newcomer.

The top three vote-getters for the board's three open seats were current vice president Kathleen Rhodes (1,222), newcomer Ian Phillips (1,115) and incumbent Salvatore "Sam" Giangreco (1,054). Three-term board president Michael McCole received 824 votes, and former board member Andrew Roblee received 969.

After the results came in, McCole shook Phillips' hand and wished all of the board members well.

"Good luck. Have fun. If you need me, I'll be fishing," McCole said, which garnered laughs from those around him.

Rhodes said she was thrilled the district's propositions all passed, and spoke about the candidates. Rhodes and McCole have been on the board together since they were both first elected in 2012.

"For me, it's hard, because Mike's done an awful lot of work, and I don't want to ever belittle his work because he's done a ton. But it is what the vote is, I can't change that," she said.

The $75 million district budget passed easily, 1,464-427. That budget includes a 1.58-percent tax levy increase — equal to the district's tax cap set by the state.

Bonny Blair said before voting at Auburn Junior High School Tuesday afternoon she was going to vote in favor of the budget. Blair said she is a retired Southern Cayuga Central School District teacher who had children who attended the Auburn district.

"I feel like our youngsters are the best investments in our community," Blair said.

Before casting his vote at Owasco Elementary School, James Paul said he planned on voting against the budget, as he feels the community's property taxes, affected by the district's tax levy, places a burden on senior citizens. 

"I didn't hear anyone speaking for the senior citizens," Paul said.

Paul said he planned to vote for the newer candidates, Roblee and Phillips. Roblee had been on the board from 2013-2015 but stepped away before his term ended to focus on pursuing a master's degree. Phillips is an employee of the New York State United Teachers Union.

"(The incumbents have) been in there long enough," Paul said. "Let's get new ideas in there."

Fourteen people will lose their jobs from the 28 position cuts this year. One teaching assistant and 13 teaching aides will be cut. The total 28 spots that will be lost are 15 teacher aides, five general education elementary teachers, five elementary special education teachers, one high school social studies teacher, one elementary music teacher and one teaching assistant.

District Superintendent Jeff Pirozzolo had previously said the district would try to cut positions with incoming retirements in order to save jobs. He also said in February that eligible employees who turned in retirement letters by March 1 would receive retirement incentives to save positions in the wake of the district's $3.8 million deficit. If 15 or more employees turned in letters, the incentive would be $7,500, Pirozzolo said at the time. Employees at least 55 with 30 years of teaching experience or who are 62 years of age were eligible. Pirozzolo previously said 17 employees submitted letters.

District business manager Lisa Green said at the April 18 meeting some of those job cuts could be recovered as more resignations or retirements come in between now and Sept. 1, as teaching aide positions have high turnover rates. At an April 4 meeting, Green said the shortfall was set to drop to $2.3 million through various budget maneuvers, including using $1.32 million in reserves and additional state aid.​

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


Education Reporter