AUBURN, Mass. — The Auburn School Committee voted unanimously Wednesday night to support proposing a reduced district draft budget of $22,520,836 to the town for Fiscal Year 14 — an increase of 3.14 percent for FY13.
Originally in November, the school district had brought forward a budget request of $22,985,252.
"We recognized that there are still fiscal challenges that remain," said Auburn Superintendent Maryellen Brunelle, who laid out a series of six budget reduction scenarios for the school committee to consider, spanning from a budget increase of 3.7 percent from FY13, to an increase of 2.15 percent.
Ultimately, Brunelle recommended two rounds of cuts, which would reduce $555,855 from the originally proposed budget. This would still be a $682,810 increase for the FY13 rate.
Brunelle said the leadership team's goal was to make sure the district not only had an ample number of staff, but also maintained the high quality that requires training and materials.
"This budget is heavily dependent on making sure that we have the best people working with our students at every level of our educational program," she said.
In the first round of cuts, Brunelle said one the largest looming issues was sequestration in Washington.
"Originally we had anticipated a potential 50 percent cut in the three federal grants we receive — the 240 grant, Title 1 and Title 2A," said Brunelle. "We've since learned through the Department of Education that it's more likely in the range of 15 percent — but that's a guesstimate at this point."
By reducing the affect of the sequestration down to 20 percent, the district was able to reduce a total of $220,000 in the regular budget.
Should the issue be resolved, there is an additional potential offset of $43,000, according to Brunelle. This would further reduce the budget increase to 2.9 percent for FY13.
The district was able to reduce oil amounts budgeted by $52,416 for FY14.
Further cuts in round two included mirrored reductions to supplies and textbooks across the elementary schools, as well as at the middle school and high school.
Districtwide professional development would also get a $20,000 reduction, bringing the line down to $100,000.
"It may limit some of the work we can more specifically do in the summers," said Brunelle.
Additionally, the district would accept five additional school choice students to Auburn High School, allowing for a reduction of $25,000.
The budget will be submitted as a draft to the town manager by Jan. 14.