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Auburn voters support school warrant articles

AUBURN — Auburn voters at the school district deliberative session Monday backed an amendment lowering the school budget warrant article by $34,467, which was prompted by lower tuition charges from Pinkerton Academy.

An attempt to zero out a warrant article seeking more money for architectural and engineering fees tied to a possible project at Auburn Village School failed.

Three remaining articles also went unchanged.

About 40 residents attended the session to discuss and debate the articles presented by the Auburn School Board.

Residents will next vote on the warrant articles by official ballot between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 11, in the Auburn Village School gymnasium.

On Monday, most of the discussion was on Article 2, the school budget, which School Board Chairman Alan Villeneuve amended downward slightly. Villeneuve said the tuition costs for Auburn high school students attending Pinkerton Academy were lowered by $34,467.16 because of the Derry school’s agreement to start taking Hooksett students next year.

So the original budget figure of $12,490,886.16 was lowered to $12,456,419, which is a 6.3 percent increase from the previous year’s budget.

Much of the school budget discussion focused on the cost of special education. “Of the $740,000 increase in the budget, about $650,000 is going to special education,” Villeneuve said.

Several residents peppered Villeneuve with questions about why the cost of educating these students was growing so much, but in the end, they backed his amended budget article unanimously.

Article 3 asks residents to establish a $75,000 Special Education Expendable Trust Fund, which School Board member Anita Gildea said would be used to cover any unexpected future needs. The article will go to voters unchanged.

Article 4 asks for $93,100 for further architectural and engineering fees for possible renovations and additions to Auburn Village School.

School Board clerk Brian D’Amelio said the money would be used to explore removing nine portable classrooms and building an addition as well as other renovations.

Auburn resident Dennis Vieira proposed zeroing out the amendment, believing too much money has already been spent. “I didn’t think it was appropriate for this year,” Vieira said.

Residents Ryan Maher and Kim Sargent spoke in support of retaining the funding, and Vieira’s amendment was voted down by all but five residents.

Article 5, considered a housekeeping item, essentially eliminates a High School Transition Fund, which hasn’t had money in it for years. “The residents of Auburn stood up for education today,” said Villeneuve, who was pleased at the near unanimous support he saw.

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