AUBURN — Excited that a new Edward Little High School is finally going to be built, 13 people who will steer plans for what the school will look like and where it will be sited met for the first time Tuesday night.

The work of the Edward Little High School Building Committee is expected to take years in what one member called a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Four on the committee are citizens: Sue Mercier, Jon Bausman, Beth Favreau and Leonard Kimball. They introduced themselves and shared why they got involved.

Mercier said her children graduated from Edward Little. “I was excited we got state funding.” She got involved “to make sure it happens.”

Bausman, a pediatrician in Portland, has a second- and third-grader at Fairview Elementary School in Auburn. A new high school “really hits close to home. Cross my fingers my kids will be able to see the school and graduate from it.” He said he wants to ensure all Auburn students “have a great facility.”

Beth Favreau is the parent of a fourth-grader at Park Avenue Elementary School. She sells real estate and hears frequent feedback about Auburn schools from homebuyers.

Leonard Kimball, an IT manager at an Augusta bank, is the parent of two students at Walton Elementary. “I’m eager to see if there’s any way I can help in this process.”

Other members are Auburn City Councilors Jim Pross and Grady Burns; School Committee members Bonnie Hayes and Tom Kendall, Superintendent Katy Grondin and Business Manager Jude Cyr.

The committee also includes Auburn acting City Manager Denis D’Auteuil, Edward Little teacher Brandy McFadden and Principal Scott Annear. The high school community “is super excited,” Annear said. “This is a big step.”

Auburn school officials learned in the fall that the city would get state funding to build a new high school. Cyr said this is the third time Auburn applied for state funding for a new high school. The first time was in the 1990s when Auburn was ranked No. 44 on the priority list of school building projects, which was too low.

“The second time it was 34,” Cyr said. “This time it was sweet 16” and in the nick of time. “We were the last on this list to get the nod to move forward,” Cyr said.

“This is an exciting time for Auburn,” he said. “I’ve been telling my grandkids this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us. We need to do it right.”

Committee members elected Kendall as chairman.

Members were given a color-coded chart showing the 21 steps Auburn must follow to successfully build the school. Auburn is on step No. 4. “Hopefully, in five to seven years we will be at a ribbon-cutting,” Grondin said.

The next step facing the committee is selecting an architect. Cyr reported there are five qualified architects who have applied. They are Portland Design Team, Lavalle/Brensinger and WBRC, all of Portland, Oak Point Associates of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Harriman Associates of Auburn.

A nine-member committee will meet Dec. 14 to discuss hiring a company. The nine members are Grondin, Cyr, Annear, Kendall, Auburn Mayor Jonathan LaBonte, D’Auteuil, Mercier, Burns and Hayes.

After an architect is hired and it’s decided to build, the committee will work to recommend a site. A site selection can take a year, and would require a public hearing, Grondin said.

Other big decisions that will follow will be the building’s design and curriculum. Before a new school is built, it will have to be approved by Auburn voters in a binding referendum at the polls.

Kendall said the school will be paid for by the state, but the community may decide “we want something more.”

If the committee decides to recommend a larger site than what the state is willing to pay for, or more classrooms and programs, “this community is going to be asked to fund that land purchase,” Kendall said.

“We need to constantly apprise the community that that’s what we will be doing so we don’t get to the end of this and say, ‘$60 million will come from the state and $10 million is going to come from the city of Auburn,’ and the citizens say, ‘You never told us that.’”

It’s important that understanding be shared early on and be repeated, Kendall said, “because the community has to support this.”


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