AUBURN — Reducing the school budget by $1.3 million as requested by the City Council will require eliminating 13 positions, most of them new.

Auburn School Superintendent Katy Grondin Sun Journal file photo

The only current position to be cut is a technology instructional coach, at a savings of $66,500.

“Our hope is that this person will move into an open position,” Superintendent Katy Grondin told the School Committee, meeting remotely last week. “The hope is she will have a job if she wants it.”

The superintendent’s proposed budget for 2021 was $48.36 million, with a local increase of $2.46 million. The cuts would reduce the local share to $1.16 million.

Other positions cut from the budget include four education technicians for elementary school classrooms with more than 25 pupils. That is a savings of $120,000.

Eliminating three social workers to intervene in disruptive situations at Fairview, Park Avenue and Sherwood Heights Elementary schools would save a total of $194,500. Interventionists also provide teacher and student support and coordinate professional development sessions.

Other cuts include education technicians for special education and the middle school, among others.

Some committee members wanted to further discuss Grondin’s revised spending plan.

One request was to look at removing Apple iPads from elementary schools to free up money for education technicians or other positions that were eliminated.

That would mean breaking a lease, Grondin said, but she agreed to bring the issue back Wednesday when the committee is scheduled to further deliberate on spending.

Another request was to add $100,000 to provide free lunches at all elementary schools or $200,000 to offer free lunch at all schools in the district.

That is a lot to ask for, Grondin said, but she suggested putting $10,000 into the budget to pay for bad lunch debt at the end of the school year. That is the total amount of lunch debt on the books now, Business Manager Adam Hanson said. It only becomes bad debt when a student leaves the district.

“We’ve been asked to meet a firm limit,” Hanson said. “If we added $200,000, we would have to find an offset.”

Committee Chairwoman Karen Mathieu commended Grondin for bringing back a budget that was exactly in line with the City Council’s request for a reduction.

“The School Committee is committed to keeping people in positions,” Mathieu said. “These are not expendable people in our classrooms.”

At the same time, she said, “we have a fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers.”

“We put a list together that holds what we believe people can live with in these tough times,” Mathieu said.

She added all class sizes would still number 25 or fewer, and “we are not cutting teaching positions, other than the technology coach.”

The reduced budget would add 48 cents to the property tax rate, Grondin said.

The budget must be approved by the City Council and then by voters.

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