AUBURN — The School Committee struggled Wednesday night to craft a budget that would save classroom jobs but not raise local taxes.

Superintendent Katy Grondin pointed out that maintaining positions would cost $1.1 million because of contracted raises.

However, to keep the local tax increase at zero, the budget can only increase by $465,000, she said.

“You knew what it took to maintain staff,” Grondin told the committee. “You can’t do it without reducing staff. I know it’s painful. I get it, but you can’t have it both ways.”

The superintendent’s latest proposal would eliminate the aspirations specialist position ($107,849), a data specialist ($70,914), a special education teacher at Park Avenue Elementary School ($65,935) and an education technician at Edward Little High School.

The ed tech position is not filled and the special education teacher is no longer needed at Park Avenue, Grondin said.


School Committee member David Simpson said he was “not comfortable” with cutting any positions that the district wouldn’t be able to fund next year.

“We’re just pushing the problem down the road,” Simpson said. “As far as cutting a special education teacher and an ed tech, I am not in favor of cutting any person who provides direct care. That to me is nonnegotiable.”

Member Faith Fontaine was upset that aspirations specialist Jim Horn would lose his job.

“He does amazing things with students,” she said. “He thinks outside the box.”

Brian Carrier, the City Council representative to the committee, pointed out that city employees’ jobs are risk.

“If the city comes in at a zero (local tax increase), 50 people will be losing their jobs,” Carrier said. “They are making sacrifices, so you should be, too.”


Simpson noted that in the typical Maine family, one person has lost their job. “They’re not going out to eat, they are tightening everything up.”

He said he supported preserving teacher and ed tech jobs, but something has to give.

“It’s going to hurt, but we can’t possibly do this without hurting people,” he said. “This is a really bad situation and recovery could be years away.”

Grondin’s initial budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year was $48.36 million, a 6.5% increase over this year. Her latest proposal is $2.03 million less and represents a 1% increase.

“Whatever budget we come up with is going to be the best choice of a bunch of bad ones,” Simpson said.

Deliberations will continue May 20 via videoconference. Grondin will present information on a retirement incentive that would be offered to 16 teachers who are age 62 or older.

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