New Edward Little High School: School committee approves site, ed specs report

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AUBURN — The School Committee voted unanimously Wednesday night to support building a new Edward Little High School next to the old one, moving the the site selection process to voters for a straw poll Sept. 5.

The site plan puts the new school next to the tennis courts. Students will remain at the high school at 77 Harris St., but once the new building is ready in 2023, the old one will be demolished and the area developed into athletic fields. There will be football, soccer, softball, baseball, lacrosse, field hockey and track facilities, according to architects for Harriman Associates, who will design the building.

Voters will decide next year whether to approve the project.

Also Wednesday, the committee voted 7-1 to approve a 53-page report on education specifications, which lists a range of programming and building features they’d like included. They range from academic programs to spaces for performing arts, to energy-efficient lighting and heating systems. Architects will use the report in their design.

As committee members talked about the report Wednesday night, a few said some items were missing. 

Patricia Gautier said it doesn’t mention support services, a library or a space that teachers “can call their own.” She also wanted the report to show show schools and the city will work together.

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City Councilor Alfreda Fournier, the mayor’s representative on the committee, said overall the document lacks specifics. She wanted to see “ongoing work with veterans” so students will realize veterans’ contribution.

There’s also an absence of retirees and mentors working with students, she said. “Somewhere we need to weave in retired professionals” working with students.

Committee Chairman Tom Kendall said Wednesday’s vote was final.

Fournier said she would not support it.

Other members said the report gets the design process going.

“It’s a start, a beginning,” Faith Fontaine said.

The building design and cost must be approved by the state, which is paying for it.

The straw poll Sept. 5 is required by the Maine Department of Education to show the community supports the project.

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