AUBURN — Residents will vote next June on whether to build a high school, according to a timeline presented to the Edward Little High School Building Committee on Wednesday night.

If approved by voters, construction would begin in the spring of 2020, and the school would open in the fall of 2023, according to the committee’s timeline, Harriman architect Mark Lee said.

If the project isn’t ready for a vote in June 2019, the referendum would be in November. That would likely mean construction would be pushed back to 2021,  Lee said.

“What do we have to have ready for June?” City Councilor David Young asked.

“Get your calendars out,” Superintendent Katy Grondin said.

With residents indicating in a straw poll this month that they favored replacing the high school on Harris Street, the work now turns to programs, designing the building and budget.

The cost to the state and to local taxpayers for a new school will be announced in January, when there will also be proposals on the design.

The state is paying for the new high school, which three years ago was estimated at between $62 million and $65 million. Local taxpayers will have to pay for extras. For example, for a school the size of Edward Little, the state will pay for an auditorium that seats 400 people. If residents want a larger one, they’ll have to pay.

On Nov. 15, subcommittees for performing arts, athletics and building sustainability will present recommendations at a public forum.

On Feb. 15, 2019, a public hearing and straw poll on the cost of the project will be held.

With the site selection settled, the work gets more interesting, School Committee and Building Committee Chairman Tom Kendall.

“I’m excited about where we are in the process right now,” Kendall said. “The fun and work begins now. We’re going to start designing and seeing what this new facility is going to look like.”

Harriman architect Lisa Sawin said that in another week or 10 days architects will meet with high school staff to hear their likes and dislikes, what the new high school needs. Designers will also get input from students.

Planning is ongoing for building career and technical education programs in the new school, Grondin said. She will meet Friday with Lewiston Regional Technical Center Director Rob Callahan to plan what needs to happen to win state approval for career technical education programs. The goal is to have the new school be a satellite of the Lewiston technical center, providing more career education to Auburn students.

Committee member Bonnie Hayes said Edward Little High School was built in 1961, “and it took three referendums” to win approval. “They cut and cut and cut. We need to think about not only the present day that the kids are going to walk through that door, but 25 or 30 years out. This is one shot. We have no more space to build another school. We need to be sure that we do it right and get enough money.”

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Proposed timeline for Edward Little High School construction

  1. Nov. 13: Public forum on recommendations for what the school should have and how much they’ll cost taxpayers
  2. Jan. 15, 2019: Presentation of concept designs and cost of construction.
  3. Jan. 23, 2019: Public forum on design updates.
  4. Feb. 6, 2019: School Committee vote on the design and cost.
  5. Feb. 13, 2019: Public hearing and straw poll on design and cost.
  6. March 1, 2019: Proposal submitted to the Maine State Board of Education.
  7. April 8, 2019: Referendum language submitted to City Clerk’s Office.
  8. June 11, 2019: Voters decide on the project.

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