AUBURN — “I will pay whatever I have to,” a speaker at Wednesday night's public hearing on the school budget said, summing up the sentiment of others who spoke.
About two dozen members of the public attended the School Committee hearing on the $38,370,000 budget, which is about $2.4 million more than the current school budget. Every speaker voiced support for the committee’s recommendations, with several of them making strong pitches to keep the Land Lab program, as well as librarian education technicians at elementary schools.
Committee Chairman Tom Kendall offered opponents of the proposed budget to speak up but the majority of the comments were strongly supportive of the School Department’s budget increases.
One person urged the committee to resist cuts, saying it would be “shortsighted” and would “fly in the face of what is good about Auburn’s schools.”
Another suggested exploring cooperative efforts with the city for certain programs in which students might provide a measure of important services that city employees must now handle. That might include some environmental monitoring efforts that are in line with educational programs such as the Land Lab.
In addition to urging support for the Land Lab and librarian ed techs, there were pleas to avoid closing East Auburn Elementary School.
Another person urged tapping the fundraising capabilities of area business leaders. It was suggested that the School Committee develop a rapport with the Education Committee of the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce, noting that young business people in the area are supportive of education.
“If asked, and asked specifically, they are very good at stepping forward,” the School Committee members were told.
Kendall called several times for attendees at the hearing to tell them about opposing views, but none came forward.
“We are not seeing an outcry from the citizenry” about the proposed budget, Kendall said. “I think we go with the budget we feel is correct and see where the chips fall.”