AUBURN — In the chilly gymnasium Thursday night at Edward Little High School, local residents voted on what they would most like to see if and when a new EL is built.

It was not a formal vote. That will not not happen until June, when voters will be asked to decide whether a new school should be built.

The voting Thursday night was strictly an exercise. In it, residents were given sheets of red and green stickers in order to vote on which parts of the new school they felt were most important.

Some folks agonized over their decisions, laboring over their worksheets with furrowed brows and tapping pencils. For others, it was easy work, and they made their choices quickly.

By the time the voting was done, the results were plain to see in the array of red stickers. When it comes to ideas for a new high school, the bulk of the people who turned out Thursday night said they wanted a state-of-the-art athletic stadium, a top-notch auditorium and a really fine climate-control system.

As it turns out, that was the easy part. The group was then given a list of cost estimates for the school features on which they were voting — up to $2.3 million for the stadium package, for instance, and between $5 and $9 million for a 1,200-seat auditorium.


“Is that going to cause them to flip their viewpoints?” wondered Lisa D. Sawin, a senior associate with Harriman Architects, the firm tasked with designing the new school.

As it turned out, the price tags did not change the way the group felt. They still wanted that stadium, even knowing what it would cost. They still believed an excellent auditorium is a must.

That is what the exercise is all about, according to Mark Lee, principal architect on the project. It is about prioritizing and getting people to think about the project both individually and as a group.

According to Auburn School Superintendent Katy Grondin, the rest of the community will be invited to weigh in on the matter when school officials make the same poll available to the public through the city website.

“We want as many voices as we can get,” Grondin said.

On Jan. 23, when another meeting is scheduled on the matter, school officials plan to know exactly what the public wants, and what will and will not be covered by the state.


If the multimillion dollar project is approved by Auburn voters June 11, 2019, it would tentatively open in 2023. Among the possible choices: An artificial turf football field versus a grass field; a 400-seat performing arts center versus a 1,200-seat center; and air conditioning throughout versus only part of the school.

Subcommittees assigned to study performing arts, athletics and building sustainability made their presentations to the group Thursday night, discussing options as technical as solar panels and as grand as an eight-lane swimming pool.

They want the new school to be a boon for the community, the committee members said. They want tremendous study to precede every decision so the new Edward Little High School will be efficient, inviting and durable.

“How long is this school going to be here,” wondered School Committee and Building Committee Chairman Tom Kendall. “Sixty, 70, 80 years? We want this school to last.”

Planners also want the new EL to be a source of pride for the full community.

“We want it to be the best in New England,” Grondin said.


Sarah Raymond and her daughters Lyra, 10, left, and Addy, 8, study the costs associated with features Thursday that the new school committee and community have supported for a new Edward Little High School in Auburn. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Denis Bergeron and his wife, Sharon, speak Thursday with Billy Hunter, far left, while prioritizing what they think should be included at a new Edward Little High School in Auburn. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Assistant Superintendent Michelle McClellan counts the stickers that attendees at Thursday’s community meeting used to prioritize features that the new school committee and the community have supported for a new Edward Little High School in Auburn. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Residents post stickers Thursday on boards that feature possible features being considered for a new Edward Little High School in Auburn. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

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