AUBURN – Chris Camire likes to point out the worst boys’ bathroom in Edward Little High School: a first-floor restroom with only one sink, bowed and rotting ceiling tiles and old-fashioned stalls with half doors that offer little privacy.

“They’re just really inconvenient for some gentlemen,” the high school junior said.

Then there’s the windowless school cafeteria in the basement. Edward Little’s one and only science lab. The classroom with the electrical outlets hanging down from the ceiling, just over the heads of students so they can connect laptops and science equipment.

And the thing Camire hates most: The school’s only stage, a ledge in the gym with no wings and with such poor acoustics that audience members can’t hear what the actors are saying.

“We’ve never really used it,” said Camire, vice president of the drama club.

The 17-year-old gave a tour to media on Tuesday as part of the Auburn School Department’s efforts to highlight the problems that have landed the 48-year-old school on accreditation probation. He and other students will give the same tour to parents and community members Saturday.

The goal: make sure Auburn residents know their choices.

A new high school for $61.1 million, with no state funding.

Or a full renovation and addition for $48.7 million, with no state funding.

Or leave Edward Little as is and risk losing accreditation.

Superintendent Tom Morrill said the issue is so important that, “We’re going kind of beyond what you would traditionally do as far as informing.”

That meant a Tuesday news conference with student-led media tours and an open house this Saturday for community members.

And in an unusual move, it’s also meant spending $2,600 on a public relations firm.

“It was our attempt to make sure that we honor the intent of the School Committee, because they were unanimous in their support that Edward Little High School is their No. 1 priority and that something, from their perspective, must be done,” Morrill said. “That was a very clear and loud message coming from the School Committee.”

The Auburn-based Encompass Marketing & Design helped the school system put together press releases, contact media outlets and deal with fliers and other issues surrounding Saturday’s open house.

“Quite honestly, I could do it, but I think that I may have missed some things,” Morrill said.

It’s uncommon for a public school system to spend money on a public relations firm to promote the needs of a school. Morrill didn’t know whether the School Committee had been formally notified of the firm’s hiring, but he said the Building Committee discussed it.

“Certainly, people have been aware that we entered into that relationship,” Morrill said.

The money for the firm came from the school system’s capital renewal fund, a $503,000 pot of money that rolls over year-to-year and pays for investments into capital projects. It’s the same pot of money the school system used to pay Auburn architectural firm Harriman Associates up to $118,000 for its work, including an analysis of the building.

Encompass Marketing also donated some of its time. Morrill estimated that donation was worth two or three times what the school system paid.

The Edward Little open house will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.

What: Edward Little High School open house

When: 9 a.m. to noon Saturday

Why: To show community members the issues facing the 48-year-old school and why it has been placed on accreditation probation


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.