AUBURN — A $43.7 million Auburn Enlarged City School District capital project was passed by a large margin Tuesday.
Voters approved the proposal 1,151-427. The project will focus heavily on safety and health measures as well as cover all seven instructional buildings and the administrative headquarters. The first phase of the two-phase project is set to cost $28 million, with the remaining cost covered in the second phase.
The project originated from the results of a 2015-2016 state-mandated building condition survey. Residents also voted for the most recent capital project that encompassed each district building in 2011.
Eighty-five percent of the costs of the current project will be covered by state aid. The project will need a 1.98-percent tax levy boost, coming to $36 a year for a $100,000 home. The district hopes to open bidding from contractors by late 2019 and start construction by spring 2020. A 2023 start for the second phase is estimated with an eyed 2026 completion.
For security, the middle school and every elementary school, except Seward Elementary, will get secured entrances meant to stop visitors from reaching student areas without hitting additional security. Seward had previously received a more secured entrance, though it and Auburn High School are set to get some security updates through the new project. The middle school and each elementary school will get partial air conditioning and air relief systems, at an estimated $7 million cost. Various structural improvements are set to be made under the project as well.
District Superintendent Jeff Pirozzolo said the district will be setting up a meeting with the project's architects to get a sense of when the plans will be finalized and sent to the state education department. He said he worries about making sure students and staff are safe and is thankful the community approved the project.
"When you're talking about security and safety for children and health, you really can't put a price tag on it," Pirozzolo said.
District residents Phillip and Linda Brambley, who voted at Seward, said they voted against the project, though they noted they believe the improvements the project entails are necessary.
"We're on a fixed budget and we can't afford it," Linda said.
Resident Roxanne Whyte, who has two grandchildren who attend Casey Park Elementary School, said before casting her vote that she approves of the district safety improvements.
"Whatever helps the schools be safest, I'll vote for it," Whyte said.