You can follow the progress of the new Edward Little High School project at

AUBURN — Come 2023, nobody should have trouble finding their way to the new Edward Little High School.

Officials announced Friday that the new state-funded school will be constructed at the current location at 77 Harris St.

“This is what our community has been waiting for,” said Superintendent Katy Grondin. “This day has been a long time coming, and now it’s here. We’re very excited to move ahead in planning a state-of-the-art school that everyone in Auburn can be proud of.”

At a news conference announcing the location Friday morning, a banner read, “Our future is here.” 

School Committee Chairman Tom Kendall said that while Auburn is “blessed with a great deal of land,” very little was suitable for the new high school. 

During the past year, the Building Committee evaluated 47 sites throughout Auburn, including tours of five potential locations that most closely aligned to the selection criteria identified by the community and the Maine Department of Education. In the end, school officials said, the clear choice was to remain at the site that ELHS has called home since the building opened in 1961.

Grondin said following the announcement that the final decision was between the current site and a site between Hotel and Stevens Mill roads. Ultimately, she said, the current site met environmental criteria, among other considerations. 

At a community forum in August 2017, Auburn residents ranked their top priorities for the new school. The top three criteria to emerge were the ability to locate all athletic fields on one site, proximity to population density and the ability for the school to act as an economic draw to bring people to Auburn.

“The current site checked off the most boxes on the community’s wish list,” Building Committee member Beth Favreau said.

Students will remain in the current building during construction, and when complete, the old high school will be demolished to make way for more athletic fields.  

School officials say the current location not only offers proximity to Auburn’s student population, but project architects from Harriman Associates believe the existing site will be able to accommodate the majority, if not all of, the athletic fields used throughout the year by Edward Little student athletes.

A preliminary layout shared with the audience Friday by the architect shows a large number of athletic fields, including specific sites for baseball, softball, lacrosse, field hockey, and a track and competition field complex for soccer and football. 

The existing tennis courts will likely be relocated to Auburn Middle School, Grondin said, for which the state will pay. 

Grondin and Edward Little Principal Scott Annear said the proposed athletic fields would roughly triple what is there now. 

“You won’t recognize this site in five years,” said Mark Lee, a Harriman architect who has been working on the project.

Lisa Sawin, an architect from Harriman, told people gathered at the high school’s main entrance that they were sitting where the future baseball field will be located. 

According to the layout, the new school building will be behind and to the side of the existing tennis courts. The architects said the building design itself will be decided by a “very public process.” 

Grondin said all of the land involved is already owned by the city.

The next steps are formal approval by the Auburn School Committee in August, followed by a community meeting and “straw poll” to be held Sept. 5 at Auburn Middle School. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., with an informational session beginning at 6 p.m. and the straw poll vote is to be held at 7 p.m.

Mayor Jason Levesque, who attended Edward Little, said Friday he was pleased with the selection because of its history and proximity to the downtown. During the announcement, he called on the community to get involved in the process. 

“It’s not just a building, it’s the people that are in that building,” he said. “It’s a great time to be an Auburn resident. We have a bright future ahead of us.” 

The site selection process encompassed more than 50 meetings involving the Building Committee, its subcommittees, the DOE, landowners and state regulatory agencies. During the process, members of the Building Committee visited new public school locations in Maine and Massachusetts to gain a sense of recent initiatives and possibilities in public school construction.

In 2016, the Maine DOE announced that Auburn had been approved for a new high school based on an application submitted in 2011. The project will be fully funded by the state of Maine, with the exception of optional items that could be added locally to the project. These local options are yet to be decided but could include a performing arts center and artificial turf athletic fields.

The straw poll is a nonbinding vote designed to measure the community’s support for the proposed location. Pending Maine Board of Education site approval this fall, a referendum vote will be scheduled for June 2019 for Auburn voters to authorize the project.

Following the event Friday, someone asked what would happen to the statue of Edward Little.

It will remain “somewhere on this facility right here,” Kendall said. 

Auburn Middle School teacher Sarah Douchette, center, and Edward Little High School teacher Beth Woodhead, left, listen to Auburn School Superintendent Katy Grondin, right, explain a rough plan of where the new high school and athletic fields will be located during a news conference in front of the school Friday morning. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

June 29, 2018, aerial view of Edward Little High School in Auburn. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

June 29, 2018, aerial view of Edward Little High School in Auburn. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

A rough estimate of where a new high school and athletic fields will be located in Auburn pending more in-depth analysis of the terrain. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

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