New Edward Little price tag: $60M

AUBURN — A recommendation to build a $60 million Edward Little
High School next to the existing one will be given Wednesday night to the School Committee.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The proposed site for a new Edward Little High School is in the area of the existing tennis courts.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The proposed site for a new Edward Little High School is in the area of the existing tennis courts.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The proposed site for a new Edward Little High School is in the area of the existing tennis courts.

The School Committee meets at 7 p.m. at Auburn Hall. 

 As proposed, the new school would be built near the tennis courts,
and would be state of the art. "That's the dream," Larry Pelletier said
Tuesday. Pelletier is a member of the "Renew EL" building committee,
and an Auburn School Committee member.

The new high school would be 200,000 plus square feet, up from
the current 168,000 square feet. The building would be a rectangle
shape, designed to take advantage of the sun which would reduce heating
costs, said Jeff Larimer of Harriman architects of Auburn. 

But, where the $60 million would come from is the big question, Pelletier said.

Auburn would apply for state construction money. For the first time
in years, the state will be taking school construction applications
from November through June 2010.  The applications would be reviewed until Februrary 2011, Department of Education David Connerty-Marin said Tuesday. Applications will then be scored and compiled into a priority list that would go to the State Board of Education in July 2011.

Because some old loans have been retired, the state will have some
money, but how much is not yet known, Connerty-Marin said. How many
projects are approved depends on how much money is available and project
costs. For instance, if the first two approved cost $60 million each,
"then we could be done," he said.

If Auburn isn't successful getting state funding, "we'd do our best
to go a different route" which would include a public campaign,
Pelletier said. "We'd gain support from the public. Get alumni
involved. Get those who financially can to help out."

Pelletier graduated from EL in 1965, along with U.S. Sen. Olympia
Snowe. He has contacted Snowe hinting at support, he said. "The
community has to feel they're part of this or it's not going to work."

For months the Renew EL committee has examined what to
do about the high school, which has been called inadequate, energy
inefficient and overcrowded. The committee was faced with three choices:

 
• Renovate and expand the high school, which would cost about $48 million.

  • Build a new high school at a new site, which would cost more than
$60 million, depending on the price of land.

  • Build a new high school on at the existing site. The old school
would be used until the new school is complete. The old building would
then be demolished, making way for athletic fields, Pelletier said. One
big advantage is students would not be moved during construction.

Initially some wondered if fill dumped near the tennis courts over
the years would mean the area was not good for building. Engineering
tests showed the land is suitable, Larimer said.

Serving on the Renew EL were three school board members,
students, parents, educators and business representatives. All were in
favor of building a new school, but are worried about the cost to
citizens.

"It's on everybody's mind," Pelletier said. "Citizens would need
to know how it's going to affect them financially," he said.

Committee member Chris Camire, an EL senior, said he voted for a new building at the existing site when he found out the grounds are fine for building.

  He favors a new building instead of renovating because renovating "would just push the problems away for another
year."


One big problem in the 1961 school is the windowless cafeteria which
is crowded, lacks ventilation and has an inadequate kitchen, Camire
said.

The new high school would be "green," or highly energy efficient. It
would include an arts center/auditorium that could be used by the
Community Little Theatre, and a community center.

bwashuk@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

Have you people, who speak

Have you people, who speak against a new school, be in the building lately? I was not recently but about 7 years ago when my daughter started her freshmen year. Already then the halls felt dingy and dark and had a certain smell to it - especially in damp weather. The carpets in there are not a smart choice. The halls also felt very crowded when we where there. After 2 years we moved to Poland and my daughter attended that school which was such a big change being a fairly new school. The halls are bright and airy in comparison to EL. I hope all the finances fall in place for Auburn to enable those students a great place to learn. As far of the site, I am in favor to have it close to the old. At least some athletic areas like the track filed do not have to be built again. This alone would cut the costs compared to a other site. Rehabbing the old building seems more reasonable on paper but what are the costs to get logistics going to move the kids to different locations?

 's picture

Do you have the land or the

Do you have the land or the money to buy the land and donate it? I don't believe the $60million includes the cost of new land. And the existing school can't sufficiently work for anything let alone a school at this point. Go check it out before you speak and remember accreditation is at stake for the kids going into the high school.

ERNEST LABBE's picture

Being a member of the Class

Being a member of the Class of 63 (the first class to fully attend the "new EL" ) I'm feeling old.

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