Auburn voters will decide Tuesday whether to build a new high school which would include a wing of the Lewiston Regional Technical Center. On Thursday, Auburn Middle School students toured LRTC programs in Lewiston to learn about careers. Criminal justice teacher Steve Reece looks at the fingerprints of Auburn student Devin Fuller, left. Next to Fuller is Angelica Grant. Jacob Abbott, back left, and Owen Brousseau work on recording their fingerprints. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

AUBURN — If Auburn voters approve Question 1 on the ballot Tuesday, authorizing $5.6 million in local costs plus state funding in the amount of $105.9 million for a new Edward Little High School, the school would include a sizable career and technical education wing holding 10 programs and 425 students.

The wing would be the Auburn campus of the Lewiston Regional Technical Center.

Makayla Yeaton, center, pays close attention to child education teacher Diane Rodrigue at the Lewiston Regional Technical Center pre-school in Lewiston on Thursday. Eighty eighth-graders from Auburn Middle School team “White Cap” toured LRTC classrooms to get an understanding of what is offered through the high school program. “There is something for everyone,” said AMS teacher Tracey Blaisdell about the diverse range of classes. “That’s what makes it so special.” Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

LRTC, which is at Lewiston High School, serves six high schools: Lewiston, Edward Little, Poland, Leavitt in Turner, Lisbon and Oak Hill in Sabattus. Because Lewiston is the host, about 50 percent of classroom seats go to Lewiston students, the other five schools split the remaining 375 seats.

“There’s not a lot of kids from Edward Little who come here. Auburn can only send two or three kids per class,” said Mason Aube, who graduated from Edward Little on Saturday, and has been hired as an electrician’s apprentice by IBEW.

A new Edward Little with career programs “is something that’s going to be good,” Aube said. “With it being here, more kids will be interested. More will try and more will get jobs.”

In Lewiston, the 20 programs at LRTC  “are all full. We have waiting lists,” said LRTC Director Rob Callahan, adding it’s not uncommon to have a list of 30 students asking for a class only available to 16.

If approved by voters, the new Edward Little High School would have 10 programs not offered in Lewiston, plus two that are (culinary and law enforcement), to provide more career classes for high school students.

As host of the LRTC wing, Auburn would get about 50 percent of program slots, Callahan said. The 10 programs in the LRTC wing at Edward Little would offer 425 seats, plus two exploratory programs, which would mean Auburn students would get approximately 212 seats.

The programs proposed for the new Edward Little, approved by the state, include precision manufacturing, composite manufacturing, law enforcement, firefighting, EMT, cosmetology, education, culinary arts, biotechnology, engineering with robotics, and two exploratory programs in construction trades and health careers.

Auburn Middle School eighth-grader Angelica Grant uses a magnifying glass to look at her fingerprints that she recorded at the Lewiston Regional Technical Center in Lewiston on Thursday. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

To build a regional technical high school with those programs is expensive. It would cost $30 million or more, Callahan said, noting the state is paying for the programs.

The new LRTC wing in Auburn “would emphasize the importance of career and technical education,” Callahan said. “More students are seeking them out not only for the job skills, but it’s a way they like to learn best,” with their hands. “It will add that dimension to Edward Little.”

The programs would create new areas of learning such as precision machining, bio med, “all the things coming on line that we can’t offer now,” Callahan said. “It will benefit local employers. It will help the economy. It will put skilled labor in play.”

And two programs would be open to younger students. Now most LRTC classes are available to 11th- and 12th-graders, but freshmen and sophomores could enroll in the two exploratory programs, Callahan said.

“For a lot of kids, it’s hard to say to them, ‘Wait until you’re a junior.’ We lose kids because of that.'”

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