AUBURN — Auburn citizens are invited to the first of two public hearings Thursday about what changes or improvements should happen in the next 10 years with the city's school buildings.
That meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. in the City Council Chambers of Auburn Hall.
Among the possible changes are:
* Should a new Edward Little be built with local funding only?
* Should the existing high school be renovated and expanded?
* Should smaller, older elementary schools be closed, and the middle school turned into a large elementary school?
* Should the high school become the middle school?
Turning the high school into a middle school, and the middle school into a large elementary school, could mean closing older, smaller schools like Washburn and East Auburn.
“Everything's on the table. Nothing has been decided,” Superintendent Katy Grondin said. “We want to give people a chance to have input” before officials craft final proposals in early December. “If you want to be a part of that, this is an open committee.”
People are invited to attend any of several meetings that will be held this month and next.
All people and ideas are welcome, Grondin said.
The Auburn School Committee has hired McCormick Facilities Management to help explore all options in coming up with a 10-year facility plan.
Existing school buildings have millions of dollars worth of needs. The goal is to have a master facility plan that will avoid wasting money, provide efficiency and give students good spaces to learn.
“We have limited resources,” Grondin said. “We need to be planning very smart on how we take those resources and apply them to our facilities,” Grondin said. There's never enough money to go around. “We want to make sure we're taking a close look” at all possibilities for the next 10 years.
The most pressing need is a new or improved Edward Little. Auburn has applied for state school construction money, but hasn't been successful. Auburn may not get state construction money for at least another 10 years, Grondin said, adding officials don't want to wait that long.
While the high school is the most pressing need, “we want to make sure we're not losing sight of two schools, Washburn and East Auburn,” neither have separate gymnasiums and cafeterias.
Auburn's pre-K-6 enrollment has grown by 343 students since 2005, in part due to the fact that Auburn has added another grade level, pre-K. Auburn's overall pre-K-12 enrollment is 3,668, the highest since 2003. Existing school buildings are bulging beyond their capacity and can't accommodate continued enrollment growth, Grondin said.
The facility planning work will be wrapped up in the end of November.
In early December the Auburn School Committee will prioritize three to five scenarios of what the 10-year plan should be, in time for the upcoming school budget deliberations.