AUBURN — Balancing next year’s school budget likely will mean job cuts.

Fixed increases, including contracted raises, will be at least $1.7 million, Superintendent Connie Brown said in a presentation to the School Committee on Wednesday night.

“What I have heard is that the City Council is looking for a very modest to no increase at all,” Brown said. “For me, the ceiling is the budget that I have right now.”

If the goal is no local increase, “we will have to go into people costs,” she said. “I would be disingenuous if I said we could do it any other way.”

The 2020-21 budget is $45.8 million. It does not include a local tax increase, nor did the previous two years’ budgets, Business Manager Adam Hanson said.

The breakdown of fixed costs for 2021-22 is:

• An increase of $765,773 for teachers’ raises.

• An estimated increase of $44,209 for administrators’ raises (no settled agreement yet).

• An estimated increase of $572,906 for health insurance.

• An increase in debt service of $171,578 (for the new high school).

• An increase of $155,244 for lease agreements (laptops).

Brown noted that the 10% increase for health insurance is likely to be much lower.

“I’d rather take money out than have to put more in,” she said. This year’s increase was about 1.5%.

Hanson said that the figures she presented are only those that are known at this time. Once education technicians, secretaries, custodians and bus drivers are added, the increase will be higher.

Utilities could be added to the list of fixed expenses, Brown said, adding that only about 5% of the budget is discretionary spending.

Brian Carrier, the City Council representative to the School Committee, said the council plans to start at a zero increase and reduce from there.

“The City Council is literally looking at everything,” he said. “The majority of the budget is personnel, so we are limited in the amount we can cut before affecting jobs.”

The School Committee will begin budget deliberations in February and hold a public hearing in April.

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