AUBURN — For the second time, Auburn voters will have a say on the proposed school budget during Tuesday’s budget approval referendum.

Voting will be at one location, Auburn Hall, from 7 a.m.to 8 p.m.

The school budget voters will decide on a $37.67 million budget, a 4.9 percent hike from the current budget. The school budget rejected by voters June 11 in a 1,625-1,036 vote was 6.9 percent higher, or $38.37 million.

The $37.6 million budget would raise property taxes by $55 on a home valued at $150,000, according to the School Department. When adding the city budget, taxes on that $150,000 home would go up about $166 from 2012-13.

After voters rejected the first budget June 11, the Auburn School Committee last month voted to cut $874,830. The cuts would not mean any layoffs.

Positions eliminated include an elementary school librarian and middle school secretary, who have found other jobs within the school district. Proposed spending that was in the first budget which will not happen include a elementary school nurse, two instructional coaches and a cultural broker for students from immigrant families, as well as some course reimbursement to teachers.

Also cut was $200,000 in maintenance for buildings, leaving $100,000. Auburn Superintendent Katy Grondin has said she understands criticism that Auburn schools don’t do enough to take care of buildings, but that cutting maintenance this year would help preserve programs for students.

Still in the budget is the Auburn Land Lab position of teacher Jim Chandler. Also in the budget is expanding the iPad tablet computer program to the second grade this fall and replace laptops with less expensive iPads for grades seven-12.

The school committee also agreed to take over paying for school police officers, a cost of $170,315 in the city hall budget.

Taxpayer advocate Ron Potvin has said the 4.9 percent increase is too much. He believes it should be no more than 1.7 percent, since the school department has $800,000 in its fund balance and has received more money from the state. He also complained that July 23 is a poor time to hold a referendum, explaining that too few people will vote.

School committee member Tom Kendall has said the fund balance, or rainy day account, is needed to cover unexpected costs. A 1.7 percent increase would not be enough, Kendall said, to cover costs to run nine schools and pay for negotiated raises for staff and state policy changes that will mean higher costs and health insurance fees, which spiked 13 percent this year.


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