AUBURN, Mass. – As Auburn residents head to the polls on Thursday for the Bay Path renovation/addition election, the Auburn Board of Selectmen gave the $73 million project last-minute support at its meeting on Tuesday night.
"This is one of our schools, even though it’s not located in Auburn," said Selectmen Chairman Doreen Goodrich. "These are our kids, and we have the same obligation to the children who go to Bay Path as to the ones who go to Auburn public schools."
Auburn will be one of 10 area towns to vote in a special election on Thursday, Oct. 4, to decide whether the Southern Worcester County Regional Vocational School District can borrow $73.8 million for renovations and additions at the Bay Path Vocational Technical High School.
The special election for the school project is scheduled from noon to 8 p.m. at Auburn High School. The other towns to vote are Charlton, Dudley, North Brookfield, Oxford, Paxton, Rutland, Southbridge, Spencer and Webster. The project would provide a 50,000-square-foot addition, replacing a 45-year-old roof, the heating and ventilation system, windows and much more.
Like seven of the district Boards, the Auburn Selectmen were supportive of the renovation/addition project, with three members saying they would vote “yes” on Thursday.
“I think this project has to move forward,” said Selectman Kenneth Holstrom. “We have Auburn students at Bay Path, and it’s our responsibility to go forward with this project.”
The other Board supporters for the Bay Path election were Goodrich and Robert Grossman. Denise Brotherton was unable to attend the meeting, and Steve Simonian abstained from the vote.
“I’m not advocating for or against the project. I think this is something that people should make up their own mind on, rather than have us take a position and have that be the determining factor in making up peoples’ minds," Simonian said.
The total cost is projected at $73.8 million, with a $46.5 million reimbursement from the Massachusetts School Building Association (MSBA).
According to Bay Path officials, Auburn’s share would be $3,589,631 (without interest included) for the work to add 50,000 square feet and renovate the 45-year-old school. The estimated tax impact on the average Auburn home valued at $222,492 is $8.49 for fiscal year 2014, with a maximum annual cost of $26.09.
The measure doesn’t have to pass in every town to move forward, according to Auburn Town Clerk Ellen Gaboury; it needs a majority vote across the 10 towns.
“It could lose in Auburn, but if there is a majority in the district, then it will go forward,” Gaboury said.