AUBURN — The School Department will hold a community forum Thursday evening to ask residents what they’d like in a new Edward Little High School.

The multimillion-dollar project, which is slated for the current school site at 77 Harris St., has won full state funding. If approved by Auburn voters on June 11, 2019, it would tentatively open in 2023.

Among the possible choices are: an artificial turf football field vs. a grass field; a 400-seat performing arts center vs. a 1,200-seat center; and air conditioning throughout vs. only part of the school.

Hoping to get a sense of priorities from residents, Superintendent Katy Grondin wants a discussion before revealing the costs of each choice and then prioritizing them.

While the state is paying for the school, it doesn’t pay for extras such as a turf football field, a large auditorium or full air conditioning. Auburn taxpayers would have to pay for them.

“Items we’re going to be looking at through local funding, bonds or fundraising is what the state does not fund,” Grondin said.

The state will pay for a 400-seat auditorium, which is too small to accommodate all students or host community programs, Grondin said.

The performing arts subcommittee is recommending a 1,200-seat auditorium that could hold all students and be a venue for outside organizations. The subcommittee would also like state-of-the-art sound and light controls and an orchestra pit.

Planners visited a new 1,000-seat auditorium in Westbrook and were impressed that it has become a source of revenue through rentals to outside groups, Grondin said.

For athletics, the state will pay for a grass field but not artificial turf. The athletic subcommittee recommends a turf field because it could be used more often by students and the community.

“We’re looking for one similar to the turf field just built by Lewiston with bleachers, field stadium, scoreboards and concession stand,” Grondin said. In addition to holding more events for Auburn residents, it would allow the School Department to rent the field, she said.

The sustainability subcommittee is recommending air conditioning throughout the new school because the the number of very warm days is increasing. Auburn’s other schools have air conditioning throughout.

The sustainability committee is also interested in geothermal energy for heating, another feature not covered by the state.

In addition to the forum, there will be surveys asking the public what they want in a new school, Grondin said. “We want as many voices as we can get.”

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Students come and go at Edward Little High School in Auburn. A community forum will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday in the school gym to get public input on amenities for a new high school. (Sun Journal file photo)

Go and do:

What: Community forum on what amenities residents want in a new Edward Little High School.

When: 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

Where: Edward Little High School gym.

What’s next: Jan. 23 public forum on school design and costs

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