AUBURN — A special education program housed in the former Lake Street School may be moved next year because school officials learned of costly repairs to the building.

Earlier this month, the School Committee’s finance subcommittee voted unanimously to direct Superintendent Cornelia Brown to conduct a cost-benefit analysis on renovating the school, which houses Auburn’s Regional Educational Treatment Center program.

The center is a “special purpose day treatment school” that serves students with “a wide range of difficulties in the areas of emotional, behavioral, social, and academic functioning,” according to its website. There are 18 elementary to high school students who attend from Auburn, Lewiston and Poland-based Regional School Unit 16 schools.

If the School Committee ultimately votes to move the program and return ownership of the building to the city, it is possible the school could be redeveloped into housing, similar to the former Webster Street School. The decision will be up to city officials.

The former Lake Street School is in need of costly repairs, which may force Auburn’s Regional Educational Treatment Center program to move out. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Students will remain in the school until the end of the school year either way, Brown said.

Recently, the Auburn school district received a Revolving Renovation Grant from the state to add an elevator to the former Lake Street School building. As an architect began examining the building for the project, they noticed a number of problems with the facility, including water intrusion and sinking steps.


Many of these repairs would not be covered by the grant and would need to be paid for by the school, Brown added. For a school with just 18 students, the cost to renovate may not be practical.

“I think it would be somewhat irresponsible of me as superintendent if I didn’t look at that,” she said. “You have to balance what you can pay to meet the needs of kids versus is it the best and wisest use of a facility. I’m not sure it is.”

The new Edward Little High School has several rooms which were built with the intent to house the high school-age Regional Educational Treatment Center students. The school is planned to open next fall.

“It was always intended to go there,” Brown said.

But if the Lake Street School is closed, there’s no clear location for the middle school-age students. There is a “learning cottage” behind Auburn Middle School, Brown said, but it is not used because it’s in a “really lousy condition.”

It’s possible the district would purchase a new learning cottage, a portable education facility, to house the middle school Regional Educational Treatment Center students.


None of the elementary school-age students are from Auburn.

“We will probably take a hard look at whether we can take kids from other districts next year,” she said.

Regional Educational Treatment Center students’ families have already been notified that these discussions are taking place, according to Brown.

The Success of Students program, which was also previously housed at the former Lake Street School, was moved to the high school this year.

Brown will present her recommendation to the finance subcommittee at their Nov. 10 meeting.

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