AUBURN — A joint meeting this week involving the City Council and School Committee will kick off the next round of planning for the new Edward Little High School, after the building location was announced last month.
School officials, along with the architect, announced June 29 the new state-funded school will be built at the current location at 77 Harris St., with a community straw poll to be held Sept. 5.
According to City Manager Peter Crichton, the joint meeting Wednesday is a chance for elected officials to discuss why the current site was chosen and to look ahead to next steps, including educational specifications of the new facility.
That discussion could lead to some debate over proficiency-based learning, and the role it might play in the new school’s design.
Superintendent Katy Grondin said she will review the educational specifications Wednesday, and the architect, Harriman Associates of Auburn, will give an overview of the next steps in the lengthy process.
Last week, state lawmakers rolled back a mandate for proficiency-based diplomas, instead allowing Maine school districts to choose whether to use proficiency-based diplomas or other graduation standards.
Grondin said she anticipates proficiency-based learning will come up in the discussion Wednesday “due to the law being repealed, and the concerns raised by the community.”
She said in an email the current educational specifications “were built on the guiding principles identified and Vision 2020,” the district’s version of a strategic plan.
Crichton said the process to create the educational specifications of a new school is laid out by the Maine Department of Education.
When asked about the upcoming joint meeting, Mayor Jason Levesque said he is interested in hearing the process to decide the educational specifications.
He said based on the recent concern among some parents over proficiency-based learning and the repeal of the state law mandating its use, there should be a close look at the school’s philosophy.
“The decisions we make today are going to effect the next 30 or 50 years,” he said.
The community meeting and straw poll is scheduled for Sept. 5 at Auburn Middle School. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., with an informational session beginning at 6 p.m. and the straw poll vote at 7 p.m.
The straw poll is a nonbinding vote designed to measure the community’s support for the proposed location. Pending Maine Board of Education site approval this fall, a referendum vote will be scheduled for June 2019 for Auburn voters to authorize the project.
Once approved by voters, the project is expected to be completed by 2023.
An aerial view of Edward Little High School in Auburn, taken June 29. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)