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Budget workshop to explore school district’s financial woes

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The Auburn Union School District is giving the community a chance this week to see how state budget cuts are affecting its schools. The district is holding a budget workshop at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Wildcat Gym at E.V. Cain Charter Middle School on Palm Avenue. “We’re really wanting to get the community to come in and hear some of the problems that we are facing, and also some of the solutions that we are forced to make, because none of them are good solutions at this point,” said Daniel Berlant, president of the Auburn Union School District board of trustees. “We are trying to ready parents for higher class sizes, fewer programs, and then to explain how this hinges on the state budget.” Berlant said the workshop is just for discussion purposes and no decisions will be made that night. A further reduction in staff is something the district may also look at in the future. Several teachers already received lay off notices this year, although the district was able to bring some of its staff back, Berlant said. “For the teachers that were laid off, we actually offered a retirement incentive to get some of our more experienced teachers to retire,” he said. “With those retirements we were able to bring back many of our younger teachers so they at least have a job, but it still means we have less staff.” Berlant said he wants to be sure community members don’t feel like they are left out of the decision making process, and he hopes the workshop will enlighten them on the millions of dollars of cuts the district has already made over the last 10 years and the cuts that are still to come. “Now the cuts are going to be painful,” he said. ~Bridget Jones