AUBURN, Mass. – A new Auburn Middle School took one step closer to becoming a reality on Wednesday.
Town officials, including Superintendent of Schools Maryellen Brunelle and Town Manager Julie Jacobson, received state approval on Oct. 3 for a new middle school at the West Street site, the town's choice from among five sites that had been under discussion. The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) gave unanimous approval at its board meeting in Boston.
“While there is certainly more work to be done, it’s a big sigh of relief. It’s a great day for the School Building Committee and for the children of Auburn,” Brunelle said. “We were thrilled to receive the support, getting one step closer to our goal of a state-of-the-art new middle school for our students.
“It’s something that the children of Auburn deserve,” she added.
The MSBA’s approval is contingent on Auburn purchasing land on West Street from Masonic Lodge; the lodge owns 6.6 acres that the school district is seeking for a new middle school, and negotiations are under way to buy the land.
In June, the Board of Selectmen, School Committee and Finance Committee all approved the West Street option for Auburn Middle School.
The West Street option was the least expensive of five proposals. A new school there would cost slightly less than $20 million — $19,826,566. The other plans were projected to cost $3 million to $5 million more.
The other plans included renovating and adding to the current middle school, building a new one next to the current school and building one on Pakachoag Street.
The West Street option was the only one where the positives far outweighed the negatives, said Eric Moore of Lamoureux-Pagano Associates. The West Street layout would meet the middle school’s team-teaching concept, also called a “pod teaching scheme,” he said. The site allows access from two streets — West Street and Masonic Circle, Moore said.
In addition, no interruptions or disruptions would occur at the current middle school during construction, said school officials, and the construction period of 24 months would be shorter than the other options.
Now the new middle school site needs to receive approval from Town Meeting members, who could potentially vote on the new school in late winter or early spring, according to Brunelle.