“Even with good work underway within our schools, Auburn ranks at the bottom of Maine’s 10 largest cities in high school graduation rates and the number of residents with bachelors degrees,” LaBonte said during his inauguration address at Edward Little High School. “So, are we doing enough collectively, to improve the soil conditions for our young people, our businesses and our community to succeed?”

LaBonte and the City Council and School Committee members were sworn in at the ceremony that featured songs by Fairview School’s Chorus and Edward Little High School’s band.

New councilors sworn in Monday night were Ward 1’s Jim Pross, Ward 2’s Robert Stone, Ward 3’s Andrew Titus and Ward 4’s Ernestine “Tina” Gilbert, Ward 5’s Leroy Walker and at-large councilors Grady Burns and David Young.

The School Committee members sworn into office were Heidi Lachapelle in Ward 1, Bonnie Hayes in Ward 2, Thomas Kendall in Ward 3, Tammy Neilson in Ward 4, Daniel Poisson in Ward 5 and members at-large Brent Bilodeau and Faith Fontaine.

LaBonte compared the city to fertile ground, asking if the city was doing enough to encourage growth — both in students and business.

He proposed having the two work together more closely, calling for a shared aspirations and business liaison position funded by tax increment finance revenues.

“Businesses being engaged by the School Department now should be connected to our efforts to reduce regulation and support business retention and expansion,” LaBonte said.

LaBonte said the city has $750,000 left annually in its TIF budgets once debt services and agreements are paid up.

“Under state law we are authorized to create training programs in support of business development,” he said. “We should maximize the ability of these revenues to position our students for early college experiences and the trades. In fact, we can partner and expand on the relationship we have with Central Maine Community College. We can use these resources to guarantee that any qualified Auburn student that chooses to can earn up to an associate’s degree as part of our local schools funding.”

LaBonte also called for creating a series of neighborhood meetings based out of schools during the next two months. He would invite educators, neighborhood groups, residents and local businesses to discuss what they need.

School Committee members voted to re-elect Tom Kendall as chairman. In his address, Kendall spoke about investing in the community and its future.

“Let’s redouble our investment for our students so that they can achieve at the highest level, so that we open doors for them that were opened for us,” Kendall said. “They deserve that opportunity. The deserve the best opportunities we can provide for them.”

The City Council gets down to business Tuesday with a special workshop with the Auburn Conservation Commission and a group of Bates College students to discuss the future of the Barker Mill Recreation Trail and dam relicensing. That meeting starts at 6 p.m. in Auburn Hall.

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