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Group to push for a new school; `Vote YES' to promote Proposition 2-1/2 exclusion.

Byline: Ellie Oleson

AUBURN - A small but enthusiastic group of citizens has formed a committee to push for passage of a debt exclusion to help pay for a new Auburn Middle School.

The group officially organized as the "Vote YES for AMS" ballot question committee. The group met with Maryellen Brunelle, superintendent of schools, Wednesday at Dunkin' Donuts on Southbridge Street to tell her of their plans.

Ms. Brunelle was present for the start of the meeting and answered questions posed by committee members, but left before any fundraising was discussed.

"I am appreciative and fully supportive of this committee. I look forward to working with them toward successful approval of this important project that will benefit the students of Auburn for decades to come," she said.

Ralph F. Capaldi Jr., committee chairman, said, "We need a new middle school. The question is, do you want to pay for it with a debt exclusion, with a tax increase that goes away in 20 years, or pay with excess tax levy, which could remain indefinitely."

He said anyone who supports using excess levy, as has been suggested by Selectman Stephen R. Simonian, has more faith in the government than he has, if they think taxes will be rolled back once the debt is paid.

"If the government rolled back once the debt is paid, there would be no more tolls on the Mass. Pike," Mr. Capaldi said.

He said the committee is pushing for a "Yes" vote at the May 7 annual town meeting and at the May 21 annual town election to approve a debt exclusion to fund the proposed West Street middle school.

Many local residents remember the years of controversy and multiple votes taken before a new high school was finally approved, then completed in 2006.

The Massachusetts School Building Authority's board of directors voted unanimously Wednesday to grant Auburn $20.7 million for the new school. That means the MSBA would contribute 58.61 percent of eligible costs for the proposed $44.5 million project.

MSBA Executive Director Jack McCarthy said, "The new Auburn Middle School will replace an aging school with an up-to-date, 21st-century learning facility."

Plans are to rehabilitate the current middle school, built in 1959, for use as an elementary school in place of two of the town's elementary schools, which range in age from 63 to 95 years old, Ms. Brunelle said.

She said that middle school students move from class to class, while elementary students do not. "Elementary students don't need a separate foreign language or science lab, for instance, as middle school students do."

The 20-member School Building Master Plan Team recommended to the School Committee Wednesday night that the existing middle school be used for grades 3 through 5, while students in kindergarten through grade 2 attend the remaining two elementary schools.

Mr. Capaldi said the two offline schools could be sold to developers "to increase the tax base," while the new and converted middle schools "will give every child the opportunity to have a good education in a safe and appropriate environment."

Committee member Tim D. Norris said that if the new school is built, "property values rise. Everyone benefits."

The committee, which has officially registered with Town Clerk Ellen Gaboury, is planning to put up "Vote Yes" signs and to hand out fliers encouraging voters to support the project.

To learn more or to volunteer to help, visit or, on Facebook, Vote Yes for AMS, or call Ralph Capaldi at (508) 832-9934. Checks can be sent to: Vote YES for AMS, 482 Southbridge St., Suite 321, Auburn, MA 01501.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Apr 6, 2013
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