Auburn City Schools focuses on design process and preparations for construction of second high school

LAUREN JOHNSON On Wednesday afternoon, Superintendent of Schools for the City of Auburn, Cristen Herring, made a presentation to the Rotary Club of Auburn on plans to build a second high school.

Herring said her goal was to continue to update the community on future plans.

ACS is currently focused on the design process and preparation for the construction of the new school.

“We are now in the planning process for a second comprehensive secondary school. It will be a 56-month process to get ready to design, bid, build and be ready to open,” Herring said. “We have built a very generous schedule due to our supply chain experience and labor shortages.”

With construction and labor costs rising, Herring said ACS knows the materials will cost more, but they are “doing everything possible to be excellent stewards” of the funds.

Herring said it’s still too early for the school system to make decisions about athletics, zoning, future staff and the school’s name, colors and mascot.

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The second high school is scheduled to open in the fall of 2027 and these decisions will be made closer to the opening date.

“When the time comes, we will certainly involve the community, future students and get input from different stakeholders, but we are far from making decisions on specific activities or elements that create the identity of the school,” Herring said.

The construction cost of the project is estimated at $105 million and the total cost of the program is estimated at $139 million.

Herring said the cost of the program also includes the cost of furniture, fixtures, technology, equipment, library books, hardware, mats and PE equipment, weights for the room bodybuilding and all that is necessary to open the school.

The new 350,000 square foot facility will cost $3 million to operate annually and will serve approximately 2,200 students.

Herring said she was confident ACS could manage the new school’s expenses with existing revenue streams and projected future revenues.

“Under the existing model, schools in the city of Auburn can build and operate this school without asking for additional resources,” she said.

The ACS also aims to make the current and future high school as similar and equal as possible.

“The design, opening and operation of this school will be comparable to how Auburn High School exists. Curriculum, opportunity, coursework, structure would be similar at both schools to protect equity and opportunity,” Herring said.

At a previous ACS Board of Education meeting, Dennis Veronese, Deputy Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer, stated that they may need to update the current high school so that it remains equal to the second high school. .

“If we put anything in the new high school that’s not in the old high school, we’ll have to upgrade that,” he said at the October meeting.

The new high school will be located north of Shug Jordan Parkway and east of North Donahue and will be across from the Auburn Varsity Club.

Herring said that once the new school opens in 2027, ACS will have room for 4,400 students in grades 9 through 12, which will leave room for more growth as enrollments projected for 2027 are estimated at 3,236 students.

Over the past 10 years, ACS has grown over 25% and is expected to continue to grow.

Herring said ACS would like to open the second school with students in grades 9 and 10, allowing upper-class students to complete their high school education at the current facility.

ACS will work with TCU Consulting Services, LLC and architectural firm Perkins & Will.

Herring is scheduled to give another presentation Monday night at 5:30 p.m. at a Ward 3 meeting located at the Cary Creek Courthouse.

“I’m happy to talk and happy to share information. There’s a lot to digest in this presentation,” Herring said. “We want to make sure the community feels well informed and involved in the process.”

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