The Auburn City Schools Board of Education granted Superintendent Karen DeLano permission to enter into a contract to purchase more land on Spencer Avenue, near Drake Middle School, this week.

The land is located at 613 Spencer Ave. and is about .14 acres. ACS is paying $29,360 for the property, which DeLano said is not above appraisal value.

In May, the board had also given DeLano permission to enter into an agreement to purchase 615 Spencer Ave. and 645 Spencer Ave. — both the same size as the first.

Old homes have been razed on those two properties, and DeLano said she expects the demolition of the older structure at 613 Spencer Ave. to be the only plans for the property at this time.

The owners of the property had approached ACS about selling, and DeLano said that acquiring these properties could provide some "wiggle room" for the future, as J.F. Drake Middle School receives renovations.

"Having these properties on that side of the street will ... help us with those renovations," DeLano said.

Renovations to the school will be one of the first major projects to come out of the 2028 Master Plan, approved by the BOE in May. The school is slated to receive an overhaul projected to cost $19 million and take 34 months.

Work will include a resdesigned entry, two-story classroom building, renovated media center, dining, music and art building as well as a softball field and play field. Construction will be done in phases and is expected to be completed in 2021.

Design work is expected to start in the fall for the project as well as for renovations to Cary Woods Elementary.

Construction at Cary Woods will include a new two-story classroom building with an administration area, new parent drop-off area and media center. Site plans also indicate a new outdoor field.

Construction will begin next June and take about 14 months. Existing classroom space would be demolished after the new wing is completed. The entire project is estimated to cost $18.2 million.

Funding of the 10-year facilities master plan was addressed at a recent budget work session that involved the City Council and city staff. City Finance Director Penny Smith said that before the BOE approved the 2028 Master Plan, the city's financial advisors, ACS financial staff and city financial staff met to examine the plan and whether it could be financially supported.

To help fund the school system's capital projects, the city collects and funds from the countywide 16 Mill Special School Tax Fund and distributes them directly to ACS. Currently, this fund services six outstanding debt issues totaling $81.6 million in outstanding principal as of May.

In addition to the 16 Mill Tax Fund, the city appropriates its 5 Mill Tax Fund to the city. This currently services the $78 million debt issuance for the new high school.

Smith said that projections show revenues from those funds increasing over the years, and as old debts are paid off, new debts can be serviced through the funds. In 2017, the 16 Mill and 5 Mill combined provided about $19 million to ACS. By Fiscal Year 2024, that number is expected to reach $25 million.

"It secures our funding for a long time to come," Smith said. "That funding is well able to capture that 10-year capital plan."

The city also provides for school operations by appropriating 1.25 of the 4 cents collected in sales and use tax to ACS.

For a PDF of the 2028 Master Plan, visit www.auburnschools.org.

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