AUBURN — While one Auburn School Committee member said a medical tourism project could “change the face of Auburn” and crowd city schools, Mayor Jonathan LaBonte said the impact on schools will not be significant.

“It will be negligible,” LaBonte said Thursday.

Auburn Superintendent Katy Grondin said Wednesday night that schools could receive new enrollments of Chinese students next winter from the medical tourism project.

A little more than a year from now, wealthy Chinese citizens are expected to come to Lewiston-Auburn to receive medical treatment unavailable in China, and recuperate in a Minot Avenue shoe shop factory that will be converted into luxury residences.

There will be some Chinese employees working for Miracle Enterprises, Superintendent Katy Grondin said. They’re expected to come to Auburn on work visas.

If they’re living in Auburn and have children, those children will be enrolled in Auburn schools like any other residents, Grondin told the board.


In other cases, patients may come to Auburn temporarily and could bring a child with them. Whether those children would be enrolled in Auburn schools would be determined on a case-by-case basis, Grondin said.

Grondin said she has no idea about possible number of new students. “I have not officially met with the city or heard the impact,” she said.

She shared the information because she wants the district to be prepared. As she learns more, she will share it, Grondin said.

Ward 4 member Christopher Langis said there’s “a certain amount of secrecy” going on with the City Council.

“We don’t know everything going on,” Langis said. “I’m hearing this project could cause our population to go up. We could be facing what Lewiston is facing” with so many students that schools become crowded, he said.

The project could change the face of Auburn, Langis said.


But LaBonte said he expects no significant impact on Auburn schools from the medical tourism project.

Miracle Enterprises estimates there could be 80 new jobs from the project, and about half will be given to foreign workers. The project expects to attract 5,000 visitors, or patients, a year, “not 5,000 new residents at one time,” LaBonte said.

Patients are expected to begin visiting Auburn next winter, with the project closer to full implementation by the summer of 2017, the mayor said. He doesn’t expect any significant impact for Auburn schools, he said.

Miracle Enterprises is planning to turn the former police station into a cultural exchange center.

That center will be “a gateway to learn more about China,” LaBonte said.

Grondin was asked if Auburn schools will offer Chinese language classes. She said it was being explored.


In a related note, Grondin said some Maine high schools have become certified to accept foreign students who come and pay hefty tuition of $20,000 or more. She asked if the city was interested in considering the option.

After some discussion, members said it could be a money-maker for the School Department, and the Finance Committee would explore it.

Food service labor contract ratified

AUBURN — The Auburn School Committee on Wednesday night ratified a labor contract with food workers, Superintendent Katy Grondin said.

Food service workers have been working without a contract during the past year.

The contract gives them no pay increase for the past 2014-15 year, a 4 percent increase this year, and 2 percent next year.

The pay raise was given “because we do recognize not all our food service workers will be offered insurance,” Grondin said.

Following Obamacare’s implementation, Auburn schools’ food service managers will get health coverage at 85 percent, meaning they’ll pay 15 percent of premiums, Grondin said. Those managers work an average of more than 30 hours a week.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. 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.