Auburn school budget passes by 5 votes

AUBURN — A check of the numbers Wednesday showed the vote on the school budget, unofficially a tie Tuesday night, was 349-344 — with five fewer no votes than initially reported.

Acting City Clerk Sue Clements-Dallaire said Wednesday that a review of the numbers revealed an error was made when the tally sheets were totaled.

Taxpayer advocate Ron Potvin has requested an official recount, and has asked that it be held Friday.

Potvin, who was the lone voice opposing the higher budget at a hearing this year, said he filed for a recount because the vote was so close.

It seemed odd, Potvin said, that Tuesday night the vote was a tie, “then all of a sudden," the vote was lopsided. Tuesday's unofficial tally was reported as 349-349.

The $35.9 million school budget — up from the current $34.7 million budget — would go into effect July 1. Of the $35.9 million, most would come from state aid to eduction. About $15.4 million would come from property-tax payers.

What's being asked of Auburn taxpayers is nearly a 5 percent increase. A homeowner with property valued at $150,000 would pay $66 more in taxes for the year.

Superintendent Katy Grondin said Wednesday she was happy the budget passed.

“I wish we had a stronger turnout," she said. "However, it still has passed, which is good for the students of Auburn and the community as a whole.”

School Committee Chairman Tom Kendall also said it was unfortunate that so few people voted. “It would be nice to have a larger percentage of the population voicing their opinion. We have 3,600 students, at least 3,600 parents. Where are they?”

The small number of votes did not send a message, Kendall said. “There's no mandate.”

Grondin said that as the budget developed, she was mindful of taxpayers and the tough economic times. She proposed a budget that continued funding for more individualized learning. The spending plan includes two new positions: a speech pathologist and an education technician.

The teachers' union worked with the School Department and only received a 1 percent pay increase, Grondin said. Some higher expenses, including fuel, “were out of our control,” she said.

The budget maintains student services and programs, and provides iPad tablet computers for next year's kindergartners and first-graders. Grondin has said that Auburn spends $8,050 per pupil, below the state average of $9,623. This budget is the first time in three years that more was asked of local taxpayers, she said.

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Janet Daigle's picture

Tired of complaints

It is sad to read comments putting down what is going on in the Auburn School system. I put 3 children through Auburn schools and two are in college now, but still struggle with computer skills. If they had the technology that was available when they were in school things would be much easier for them. Try getting a job with no computer skills, even with a college degree you need to have experience with technology. I wonder if people complained when we were in school, when they had to buy new books every few years? How much did it cost for a set of encyclopedias, that are worthless today? Technology is our future, like it or not, there is nothing that Mrs Grondin can do to change that, it is just the way it is.
If there were a lot of people who felt like Ms Gerry or Mr Potvin, where were they on Tuesday? Get out there and vote and stop complaining that you did not like the results. They didn't vote because the committee rarely listens to them?? Grow up be an adult, do your part and vote. If all the people that felt that way came and voted they would have got what they wanted.
Katy Grondin is doing a wonderful job. She is getting the information out there to parents, something that never happened in years past. She posted information on the website about the vote, she sent home notices twice to parents, she sent a phone message to all the families of students about the vote. So sad that only 800 or so people showed up. Mrs Grondin worked her way to where she is today, so she understands more than most what is needed for the kids. She is an excellent teacher, administrator and advocate for the children of Auburn. Have some faith in the people who are teaching the future citizens of Auburn.

 's picture

People may have complained

People may have complained but I couldn't look up porn or facebook in a book. Also, if I dropped one, I could just pick it up and keep walking. It's a whole cost/benefit thing.

 's picture

Don't put words in my mouth

I never said anything about Katy Grondin or the job she was doing. I am merely commenting on the school budget and the lack of priority by the school board about iPads. Also, watch what your saying about whether people voted or not, you don't know one way or the other if I voted. But I do have a right to my opinion without being told to "grow up and be an adult".

 's picture


I agree with Mr. Potvin. Its amazing, someone must have pulled extra votes out of their butt. Where did the extra votes come from? Someones pocket? Listen to the letter that Belinda Gerry read, alot of people feel this way. And the comment by our illustrious committee chairman about the low turnout. Some people feel they shouldn't bother because the school committee and city counsel rarely listen to us anyway. Maybe since the iPads are SO useful, they should (insert sarcasm here) cut some teaching positions and increase the size of the classes, no big deal since the iPads are doing the work anyway and some teachers have said, its like having multiple teachers in one room. The kids that excel, excel further while the ones that are struggling on a topic use them to TRY and improve. No child left behind? LOL. What happened to the hands on approach to get a child to understand a topic. That would save the budget a little money. If I don't have money in my budget for extra stuff, I go without. Other schools in the state are meeting or exceeding standards and they aren't providing iPads to such young children. We always hear about kids being in front of screens too much, the obesity problem among our kids, etc, but lets give them another excuse to sit in front of a screen. Wall-E.

 's picture

Grondin should be removed.

Grondin should be removed. This attack on the dwindling property owner base in this economic environment should never happen. I'm sure she's still drunk off having the media exposure associated with the iPad issue but this is vanity; pure and simple. As is, the Surgeon General says that children of this age should scarcely be set in front of a television, let alone a computer. Not only should there be a recount, but special consideration should be given to property owners who are expected to support such a ridiculous budget.

Andrew Jones's picture

You can have your recount if

You can have your recount if you like, but you're out of your mind if you think you should receive any special treatment or consideration in the voting process because you own a piece of property.

 's picture

Recount yes but...special

Recount yes but...special consideration?

 's picture

It's simple. It's like

It's simple. It's like children wanting a dog but having nothing to do with the cost and upkeep of the pet. Sure, they get the benefits of the animal, but it's the parent (property owner) who has to buy the dog, pay for the vet, and inevidibly, pick up the poop.

Andrew Jones's picture

Except that for the most

Except that for the most part, a household is not a democracy and decisions are not made by referendum. I don't see Maine returning to the 1790's era where only white male property owners had a voice in government. Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum!

Just for the record; when i was a child in our household, we were required to help care for the family pets. Not monetarily mind you, but with time and labor.

 's picture

This is where democracy

This is where democracy fails. Those who have the most at stake financially are pitted against parents, educators, and administrators. Unless a more socialistic approach were taken, ie: everybody pays, we're not going to see eye to eye. the only other fair solution is for parents to pay tuition suplemented by general funds from the state. Aside from that there's also the argument that the school system is spending monies that have little to do with actual education; especially at the age groups receiving the iPads. Again I say, if parents think iPads are so vital, they should cough up the funds.

Richard Begin's picture

EduKrat Budget in Auburn

I think them Edukrats ask for way to much money in Auburn.

I say get off the Couch get a second Job,Hold a car wash,

Hold a Bottle Drive, sell some Brownies,

Or Simply Learn to live on less and make the Education Budget supporters justify their request for always more Money.

I say Place each School on a as they Perform Basis. In another words if the school does well in the Grading Periods reward them if the Students fail to Produce hold the Money Back.

Does this make Sense? Well perhaps not but the Spending Excess on the School Budget has to come to and end.

Like Governor Lepage has Alluded.

Cut the ammount of School Supintendents in Half

So Performance as you go. You Score well in the Tests you get Rewarded and if you lag behind you get Nothing.

Thanks Sun Journal for being able to express my opinion

P S Way to go Belinda, Definetly

R Begin


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