Auburn City Schools is trying to get the 2020-21 budget together amid COVID-19 uncertainty, but administrators believe they can keep things going without layoffs or cuts.
Finance Director Liz Springer told the board of education during a brisk budget review session Tuesday morning that the $85.9 million plan should allow the district to maintain a 15-to-1 student-teacher ratio in elementary and secondary classrooms overall, and maintain a general fund balance of just over $19 million (three months’ overhead, in keeping with national accounting standards).
Still, Springer stressed the budget was put together with conservative assumptions — including a projected 12% drop in sales tax collections, and a $1.9 million drop in state aid.
“With COVID-19, there’s a lot of unknown out there,” Springer told board members.
Federal CARES Act help to the tune of $3 million, which cannot be used for normal overhead, will be put toward buying iPads for elementary and secondary students, nursing support and remote instruction programs.
Springer said the school district expects $31.4 million in direct aid from the city of Auburn ($16.5 million) and the special schools sales tax ($14.9 million), with the rest from annual state and federal funding.
The line item in the proposed 2020-22 city budget show $12.9 million in direct help for fiscal year 2021, not the $16.5 million Springer said the school district is projecting.
Auburn City Schools spokesman Daniel Chesser explained the remaining $3.6 million would come in the form of debt service payments from the city to support the district’s ongoing 2028 Master Plan to add new schools and renovate existing ones.
An approved 2020-21 budget must be submitted to state education officials by Sept. 15, according to Springer.
The Auburn City Schools board of education will host public hearings on the budget Sept. 1 at 8:30 a.m., then at 5:30 p.m. in the Auburn Junior High School auditorium.