Auburn Board of Education no longer considering utility taxAfter a considerable amount of feedback from the community, the Auburn Enlarged City School District Board of Education has decided it will no longer consider the possibility of implementing a utility tax and has cancelled a public hearing and vote on the matter that was scheduled for January 28.
“The district would like to thank the community for all of the feedback,” said Superintendent Jeff Pirozzolo. “After many phone calls, emails, and face to face discussions, we have received enough feedback to determine that this is not what the community wants. We heard your concerns, which is why we decided not to move forward.”
The district’s board of education continuously looks for ways to bring new revenue streams into the school district to help meet the ever-growing needs of its students and provide the best education possible. In New York State, 25 out of 57 small city school districts impose a utility tax, and the Auburn board would be doing its students and educators a disservice if they had not at least looked into the tax as a possibility to help save jobs and improve programming.
In the last five years, the district has had to lay off over 100 positions, which included general education teachers, as well as music and art teachers. Furthermore, the district is now faced with the need to provide more support staff to address the increasing of mental health and safety concerns.
“If the state would give us our fair share of foundation aid, we would not even have to consider options such as implementing a utility tax,” said school board President Kathy Rhodes. “It is the board’s responsibility to provide high quality and competitive programming to our students, so we need to look at any and all options that will help us do that.”
The district has argued for years that foundation aid from the state is underfunded, it is not distributed equitably to school districts based on need, and the formula uses old data to determine the level of state aid each school district needs to operate.
“I am thankful for the feedback we received from community members,” Pirozzolo said. “Implementing something like this is just not something we would do without community support, so there is no point in holding a public hearing or having the board vote on the matter.”
“We will, however, continue our advocacy efforts and fight for our fair share of foundation aid from the state because our students deserve more. We would appreciate the community’s continued support with these efforts.”