Freshman sports, skiing, golf would be cut in latest draft of Auburn school budget

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AUBURN — Some freshman sports at Edward Little High School would be cut in the latest draft of the Auburn School Department’s budget, along with seven teaching positions, new buses, multiple education technicians and other positions.

School officials reluctantly worked to trim $1.6 million from their proposed budget, a number agreed to earlier this week by the City Council.

“Nothing we do here will benefit students,” School Superintendent Tom Morrill said. “Everything we are considering would have a cost.”

Morrill presented a list to the School Committee that would cut many programs to meet the $34.3 million budget adopted by city councilors Monday.

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School officials debated the line items for three hours Wednesday night, finally settling on a group of cuts for council approval.

Councilors are scheduled to vote on the school budget at a meeting May 9. If they approve, it will go to city voters on May 17.

Morrill’s recommendation initially eliminated all Middle School sports, a savings of $33,753, along with funding for the freshman baseball team, boys’ and girls’ freshman basketball and skiing and golf programs for the entire high school. It would preserve $395,803 for the remaining sports programs at Edward Little.

School Committee member Lane Feldman said he was concerned about the middle school athletics.

“This is a problem because kids at that age are so vulnerable,” Feldman said. “When we lose athletics for those kids, we begin to lose those kids.”

Morrill’s proposed budget also would cut both teachers for the Auburn Land Lab and fund one new bus at a cost of $93,000.

School officials voted to do away with the new bus but keep middle school sports, one Land Lab teacher and professional development for the pre-kindergarten program.

The budget would cut funding for six other teachers — two technology teachers, a special education speech specialist, an alternative school teacher, a guidance teacher and a special education teacher. It also would retire two high school teachers and an elementary school librarian without replacing them.

It was too much for board member Susan Gaylord, who favored cutting high school sports to hire a new elementary school librarian.

“I’m not in favor of any of this,” she said. “I’ll say that again and again.”

The committee approved the cuts by a 7-1 vote, with Gaylord opposing.

“We should not be in this position,” Morrill said. “It is a dark day in Auburn right now.”

City Councilor David Young, the mayor’s appointee to the committee, urged Auburn residents to get out and vote at the May 17 referendum.

staylor@sunjournal.com

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