AUBURN — The superintendent’s proposed budget for the 2021-22 school year includes a local increase of 1.5% and a reduction of $1.2 million in salaries.

Some of those positions would be eliminated, and some would be covered by grant funds, according to Superintendent Connie Brown.

She presented her proposed spending plan in a memo to the School Committee, which began its budget process Wednesday night with presentations from principals.

Brown’s $49.35 million spending plan includes a local increase of about $562,500. Of that, $294,127 is the first local debt payment for the new Edward Little High School.

The proposal represents a $3.54 million increase over the 2020-21 fiscal year budget of $45.8 million. That budget was $1.9 million lower than the previous year’s. The cuts last year were made to ease the burden on local taxpayers during the ongoing pandemic.

Brown wrote in her memo to the School Committee that her plan was drafted “to come close” to the spending parameters set by the committee and the City Council.

The $3.54 million increase over the this fiscal year includes the state’s first debt payment for the new high school, Brown said Wednesday. That payment, $2.14 million, is added to the budget but does not affect local taxes.

Brown said in an email Wednesday that she did not yet have information on how much her budget would increase local taxes.

Committee Chairwoman Karen Mathieu asked whether the superintendent’s budget was created “through the lens of a 5-day-a-week, fully in-person” view of schools next year.

Students have been attending classes part time this year and studying remotely part time because of distancing guidelines designed to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Brown said her budget is based on a full return to in-person classes.

She included a “budget message” in her memo.

“I believe that the most effective budget processes are those that are transparent, efficient, and inclusive,” Brown said in her message. “One of my goals has been to convey information clearly and frequently in simple terms that result in greater transparency and strengthened trust.”

Budgets matter because they are communication tools and reflect priorities, she said.

She said her draft prioritizes instruction, including lower class sizes at the elementary level, which would give teachers opportunities to help pupils with lessons before interventions were needed.

Positions to be eliminated include a high school social studies teacher (retiring), a gifted and talented teacher at EL (unfilled), an English teacher at the high school (filled) and a teacher at Franklin Alternative School (retiring).

Other proposed staff reductions are a health assistant at Walton Elementary (to be replaced by a registered nurse), an instructional coach at the high school (unfilled) and a guidance secretary at EL (retiring).

Restructuring special education would eliminate three teaching positions and 10 education technicians, according to Brown’s memo.

The superintendent’s budget kicks off deliberations by the School Committee, which is set to adopt a budget in May that is approved by the City Council. The final draft will go to city voters in a referendum in June.

A budget calendar is posted on the school department’s website, Brown said, adding that updates will be posted as the committee makes decisions.

By the numbers:

·       Projected state aid: $29.58 million.

·       Increase in state aid over current year: $3.27 million.

·       Local share: $18.46 million.

·       Amount of fund balance to be used: $879,404.

·       Increase in regular instruction spending for contracted raises: $762,472.

·       Increasing long-term substitute pay from $115 to $218 per day: $40,000. (No change to daily sub rate. The district is at or above all surrounding districts.)

·       Budgeted increase for health insurance: $559,990 (10%).

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: