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February 04. 2013 10:41PM

Auburn board makes quick work of budget questions

AUBURN - After just a few questions and comments among officials, the Auburn School District's Deliberative Session was closed and three articles were approved for the school district ballot virtually untouched.

One school board member quipped that the 17 minutes it took to conduct the meeting might be "a record."

The first article up for debate was the collective bargaining agreement reached between the Auburn School Board and the Auburn Education Association. The agreement provides three salary and benefit increases over the next three years: $82,270 increase for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, $111,433 increase for 2014-2015, and an $85,245 increase for 2015-2016.

Resident Gilbert Oriol inquired on the reason for the spike in the second year of the agreement.

He was answered by board member Alan Villeneuve, who said that while the second- and third-year raises were both 1.75 percent, there are changes in the health insurance burden which account for the discrepancy.

"In the third year, the health insurance percentages change," said Villeneuve. "The teachers pay an additional 2.5 percent health benefit, so that's why the number goes down.

The district's proposed operating budget followed. The budget comes in at $11,609,192, with the default budget falling at $11,437,610. Kathleen Porter, the board's representative on the Auburn Budget Committee, opened the discussion by thanking the Budget Committee.

"It's a lot of work," she said. "We actually do have a very good working relationship. We actually have fun, and I enjoyed it a lot. It's another successful year, and we bring forward our budget."

Resident and Planning Board Chairman Stoney Worster questioned school officials on several details of the budget.

One was an increase in student transportation cost: For the current school year, $558,730 was raised and appropriated. The transportation line in the proposed budget 2013-2014 school budget calls for $683,405. Kathleen Porter answered that the increase was due to the district's high school students currently being split between Memorial High School in Manchester and Pinkerton Academy in Derry. Two buses are being added to the district's transportation schedule.

The only change made to the warrant was a minor grammatical correction.

The final warrant article, which would take $25,000 from an undesignated fund surplus and place it into the School Construction Expendable Trust Fund, received no discussion. The fund finances construction, renovation, and expansion projects on school buildings and grounds.

The session's relative quiet may in part have been due to sparse attendance. Not counting school officials, only 14 people were present.

Porter used the opportunity to recognize several school officials who were present. Becky McCarthy, district clerk, District Moderator James Andrus, and School Board member Nancy Pelton were presented granite sculptures carved in the shape of the state.

The Auburn School District ballot will be presented alongside the town ballot at the Auburn Town Election March 12 at Auburn Village School, 11 Eaton Road. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

bclogston@newstote.com

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