AUBURN — Educators concerned about staff cuts in the superintendent’s proposed budget fear those cuts would have a bad effect on students.

Superintendent Connie Brown recommends cutting one English teacher at Edward Little High School and moving three of six special education technicians from the high school to an off-campus treatment center.

Retired teacher Candy Gleason, now a special education technician at Edward Little High School, told the School Committee on Wednesday that she believed students would be hurt by the cuts.

“If this budget passes, it will hurt students,” Gleason said. “You can’t in good conscience pass a budget that does this.”

She said the special education program has helped students meet standards and earn diplomas. Without the help of education technicians, teachers would struggle to meet the needs of special education students, she said.

She also objected to cutting an English teacher at EL.

“People, we have a literacy problem here,” she said. “You are cutting the very teachers who can help raise the literacy level. That makes no sense to me.”

EL English teacher Anne McIntire also asked the committee not to cut the positions.

She said the English department has a staff of 11 while science and math each have 10. But the English department needs that extra teacher, she said.

“Reading, writing and speaking are skills our students need,” she said.

She said she had a sophomore who was reading at a third-grade level and teachers were able to give him the time and attention he needed. That student is now a senior and is deciding where he wants to go to college, McIntire said.

“I see these cuts as devastating,” she said. “They make teachers feel as if all the hard work they’ve done during this pandemic is nothing and meaningless.”

She added, “I implore you to find the money our district needs. In the end our students will be the ones who suffer.”

Brown said after the meeting that all budget cuts and related decisions were difficult and she appreciated the advocacy for the English department.

But her priority is reducing class sizes at the elementary level, she said. Money for the EL position was moved to the primary grades.

“It’s hard for me to support maintaining an average class size of 11 in the EL English department and class sizes of 20-plus in the elementary schools,” Brown said. “Auburn historically has had very high class sizes at the elementary level and I believe it’s making the job of elementary teachers harder. We need to reach our students at a younger age.”

Gleason and McIntire spoke during a public hearing on the proposed budget. No one from the public commented.

The draft budget for 2021-22, by the numbers:

• Total amount: $49 million (up from $45.8 million in 2020-21).

• Percentage increase: 7%.

• Local assessment: $18 million (up from $17.9 million).

• Percentage increase: 1.33%.

• State aid: $29.6 million (up from $26.3 million).

• Percentage increase: 12.4%

• Impact on local education tax rate: 12 cents per $1,000 of property value.

• Increase on a $150,000 home: $18.

The School Committee will vote later this month or early in May on a spending plan that must also be approved by the City Council and city voters.


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