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 file

AUBURN — The School Committee will decide Wednesday whether to close Lake Street School and hand it over to the city after an architect identified costly renovations.

Last month, Superintendent Cornelia Brown’s recommendation to close the school and restructure the special education program based there was approved 3-0 by the finance subcommittee.

The district was recently awarded $1 million from the School Revolving Renovation Fund of the Maine Department of Education to add an elevator and renovate the original bathrooms. While examining the school in preparation for the elevator addition this summer, an architect found structural issues that would need to be addressed at the expense of the school district.

He determined that the district would need to address water running through the foundation at the front of the school and add a second entrance to allow buses to loop around the property. Additionally, the insulation on the exterior heat pump lines must be replaced.

In her recommendation, Brown noted that the necessary repairs would likely exceed the state grant by $450,000 to $600,000. She also noted that costs for the original renovation project have likely risen beyond the initial estimate conducted in 2021, which included $65,000 in local costs.

“Knowing that the Edward Little (high school construction) has experienced price escalation, we are dubious about our ability to install an elevator and renovate restrooms for the $1,065,000,” she wrote.


The Regional Educational Treatment Center program housed in the Lake Street School 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.

As of October, there were 18 elementary to high school students who attend from Auburn, Lewiston and Poland-based Regional School Unit 16 schools. Brown previously said that none of the elementary-level students are Auburn students.

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

In addition to vacating the building, the School Committee will vote on Brown’s proposed transition plan for the Regional Educational Treatment Center program.

If the school is closed and ownership given to the city, the special education program would be downsized to include only Auburn students and split between the new high school and the middle school, according to Brown’s recommendation.

Brown previously told the Sun Journal that the new Edward Little High School is being built with space for the Regional Educational Treatment Center and Success of Students programs in mind. The district plans to purchase a new portable school building for the middle school, which would contain two classrooms and two bathrooms.

If both votes pass, the school will vacate the building by June 30, 2023.

Mayor Jason Levesque, School Committee Chairwoman Karen Mathieu and Ward 4 representative Brian Belknap II are the voting members of the finance subcommittee.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on the second floor of Auburn Hall.

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