Harriman architects Lisa Sawin and Mark Lee present an updated budget for the proposed $125 million Edward Little High School to the Auburn School Committee on Wednesday night. The committee approved the school’s design and budget. The proposal goes to the City Council on Monday.  (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

AUBURN — The School Committee voted unanimously Wednesday night to ask voters to pay $15 million for extra amenities at the proposed $125 million Edward Little High School.

The state’s share of the project is $109 million, or 87 percent.

The local money, if approved, would fund an athletic complex, including a stadium, a 1,200-seat performing arts center, more space for programs and parking, and part of the geothermal system. The state does not cover these and other items.

The project will go before the City Council on Monday night.

On March 13, residents will be asked to weigh in during a straw vote from 6 to 7 p.m. at the high school gym. Although the vote is nonbinding, it’s required by the state to gauge community support.

Residents will have the final say during a June 11 referendum.

If approved, the school would open in 2023.

Supporters say it would be the best in the state.

The school would be 281,000 square feet, or 65 percent larger than the high school on Harris Street. It would be built on the same site.

Among the features are geothermal heating and cooling, which would be paid for in less than two years from energy savings, a wing for career and technical courses, a beauty parlor and a cafe where students would serve the public.

If plans and funds are approved, there would be a top-notch athletic field with artificial turf, field lighting, an eight-lane track, grandstands and a concessions building.

The artificial turf would allow the community greater access to play time, including the early spring, said Marc Gosselin, director of the Auburn Recreation and Sports Facilities Department. Artificial fields don’t have to be constantly maintained or treated with pesticides, he said.

“It would be a real miss for us not to take advantage of this opportunity,” Gosselin said.

The cost to local property taxpayers would be an additional $96 a year for a property valued at $150,000 in fiscal year 2022-23, School Department Adam Hanson said. The next year, additional taxes for that $150,000 property would be about $94, plus $31 for school operational costs.

Officials are hoping a fundraising campaign will help reduce the extra taxes for the school. The campaign will offer large gift donors — residents, alumni or business organizations — to naming rights to the stadium, performing arts, fields or facilities.

“Behind the scenes we are working on large gifts,” Superintendent Katy Grondin said. “We have a fundraising spot on our website, https://newelhs.auburnschl.edu/”

The fundraising campaign will start after the June referendum, if voters approve the project.

After the School Committee vote, Chairman Tom Kendall thanked Harriman architects for a school design and concept the community can be proud of, he said. The school will “serve our students and this community and yield us all the benefits this new high school will bring. There’s still work to be done, but we’re happy to be where we are.”

Last week, the School Committee was planning to ask Auburn voters to spend $16.48 million, but on Monday city councilors said the highest they’d support would be $15 million.

For now, a second turf field has been taken out of the proposal with the idea if there’s enough money as construction progresses, it will be put back in. And $1 million for the performing arts center has been taken out of the local bond, with the $1 million coming instead from multiple years of capital improvement allotments bonded every year.

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