Auburn Team Weighs Future Uses For Middle School Building

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The Auburn School Building Master Plan Team held its first meeting Thursday, discussing what to do with the current middle school if the new one were approved.
The Auburn School Building Master Plan Team held its first meeting Thursday, discussing what to do with the current middle school if the new one were approved. Photo Credit: Rick Sobey

AUBURN, Mass. – What does a town do with a school when it will no longer be used by students in a few years? The Auburn School Building Master Plan Team hopes to determine that soon.

The newly formed committee held its first meeting Thursday at Auburn Middle School, trying to determine how the middle school would be used if the proposed middle school on West Street were approved next year.

“Thank you very much for committing your time to this team,” Superintendent of Schools Maryellen Brunelle told the group, which includes retired teachers, School Committee members, the high school principal, the fire chief and others. “It’s an exciting opportunity for us to look to the future. Anytime we’re looking to the future for our students is a time well spent.”

Some initial ideas for the current middle school include repurposing the elementary schools or turning the building into a library or safety complex.

The master plan team will tour all the elementary schools to check their conditions and see whether it would make sense to move any elementary school students into the middle school. Some of the elementary schools were built in the 1920s and got additions in the 1950s and 1960s.

The team will then discuss options for the current middle school, formulating a recommendation for the School Committee in early February.

But before the school district can make any changes to the current middle school at Swanson Road, the Massachusetts School Building Authority and the town of Auburn must approve a new middle school on West Street. A majority of residents would have to approve funding for the project on a ballot question in the spring, and it needs a two-thirds approval of Town Meeting members in the spring.

On Nov. 19, the Board of Selectmen approved the new school on West Street to be funded by debt exclusion. That means that residents each year could be paying $66 to $78 for every $100,000 of real estate value in property taxes.

“But that’s not etched in stone yet,” Chief Financial Officer Edward Kazanovicz said. “We still don’t know how many years we’ll borrow at, and we don’t know the project cost yet. We could pay less than that, depending on the project cost. It’s a moving piece, so it won’t be determined for another three, four months.”  

A new school would cost Auburn a total of $20 million to $25 million, he said. 

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I volunteered for this committee...the superintendant could not be bothered to return my emails.