Auburn City Schools Superintendent Karen DeLano gave a presentation to the Auburn City Council at its meeting this week about the "State of the School System" in regards to academic achievements, strategic plan progress and updates to the facilities plan.
The time line for the construction of new elementary schools and a second high school was recently adjusted after DeLano reviewed updated enrollment projections. Work will start on a new elementary school this summer on property off Richland Road, with the project expected to be complete in time for the school to open for the 2018-19 school year. Then, a second elementary school — a sister school for Yarbrough Elementary School — is expected to open in 2021.
DeLano pushed back the date to open a second high school, saying enrollment projections indicate there is time to wait. ACS plans to open a second high school in 2022, two years later than the initial plan to open one in 2020.
The new high school is slated to be complete by the end of April, and DeLano said a ribbon cutting is planned for May 31 to give community members a chance to see the school.
DeLano said the school system also still has money set aside to renovate some of its older buildings, and she is working on a plan for those.
"We do have options for renovating some of our older buildings, and there's a lot of questions that we are still trying to answer — one of those questions being what is the best use of funds, the cost effectiveness of renovating versus rebuilding," DeLano said. "That causes a lot of heartburn either way you go, so we have a team of people that are studying that, and the money for those renovations is still available to us."
DeLano thanked the council for its support of ACS, saying local funding makes up 50 percent of general fund revenues.
With local support, the school system is able to fund additional teachers and reduce class size while offering art and music programs in its elementary schools.
At the secondary level, local funding allows ACS to offer STEM, hotel and restaurant management, dance, machining, aquaculture, JROTC, health sciences and culinary arts programs, among others.
"You can imagine without that local support what we would not be able to offer to our children, so it is very much appreciated," she said.
As of this week, the total ACS enrollment is 8,583 students. This school year was the first that students totaled above 8,500. The senior class has more than 600 students — something DeLano anticipates will be the norm in years to come.
ACS is projected to have more than 11,000 students by 2026.
"It's been a steady increase," DeLano said. "We had a little bit of reprieve two years prior to this one, and we've started climbing back up at a faster pace."
DeLano also updated the council on the system's five-year strategic plan for which the last phase begins this spring. Once the plan wraps up next year, a new plan will be created to continue moving ACS forward, she said.