Auburn Braces For Cuts, Claiming Unfair Tax Advantage For Metro Schools

The playing field has to be leveled

- Zaruba

AUBURN – The Auburn School Board is considering a response to cuts in state aid including a wage freeze and fees for students to participate in activities.

Superintendent Kevin Reiman said the school expects a cut of $283,000 this year, following a cut of nearly $500,000 last year.

Board Member Michael Zaruba said metropolitan school districts have more representatives in the state Legislature and are benefiting from school funding calculations at the expense of rural schools.

Zaruba: “Ultimately what has to happen is the playing field has to be leveled. We have property valuations on farm ground that is out of proportion to property taxes in the metro area.”

Reiman said when property tax values rise in metropolitan areas, state lawmakers move to cap values.

Reiman: “The concern is, now we are starting to see an increase in home values in the metro areas, which is the natural ebb and flow of things and, instead of them stepping up and paying those property taxes, now they are screaming this isn’t fair.

A 10 percent increase in my home valuation isn’t fair, when, in rural communities we’ve seen ag land go up 10, 15, 20, 25 percent and no one from the state has stepped in and said this isn’t right.
We feel it’s a little hypocritical that the state sent this letter that there are all these angry people because our farmers have been facing this for 10 years.”

The board already moved on the list, including a pay freeze for Superintendent Reiman and an early retirement program for teachers.

Reiman invites public input regarding the proposed list of cuts and expects the board to vote in May and April.

Reiman: “We want the public to be aware that these are some of the things we are facing. We are doing everything we can to limit the damage, or limit the cuts, and still provide the education that we have had the last couple of years.

  • The list of proposed cuts includes:
    · Increasing parents’ cost for school supplies
    · Students pay $75 activities fee
    · Freeze salaries for teachers and administrators
    · Not replacing elementary teaching position
    · Combine boys and girls golf programs
    · Combine boys and girls track coaches.

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