No summer in the Auburn Public Schools will likely be as busy as that of 2015 when the finishing touches were being applied to the new middle school; the Swanson Road Intermediate School was largely renovated to house younger students; Pakachoag was modified for K-2; and 4 schools moved to new buildings. SWIS got a new boiler, roof and playground, and Bryn Mawr also got a new roof.

A contractor finishes the new wall in the serving area of Bryn Mawr school. © John R. Anderson

By comparison, this summer has been relatively simple, but crews are still tackling 12 projects, and that’s on top of the usual cleaning, painting, waxing and buffing. Facilities Director Joe Fahey said, “It’s no different than any other year.” He added, “If we could handle the summer of 2015, we can handle anything.”

Roof replacements and other mechanical improvements aren’t generally visible to the public once the work is complete, but other changes will certainly grab the attention of students as they return in three short weeks. New water bubblers are being installed across the district that can fill students’ water bottles. The objective is to cut down on the use of disposable water bottles. At Pakachoag, a new music classroom is being constructed in the basement. The space was a classroom years ago, but it slowly became a storage area.

Over at Bryn Mawr, a new Grade 1 classroom has been created by erecting a wall in the former cafeteria with most of the space devoted to learning. A small serving area remains in front of the kitchen, and students will carry their meals into the gymnasium to eat, similar to what Pakachoag students do. Fahey says the cafeteria division was “a long thought process.” He credits Assistant Superintendent (and former Pakachoag principal) Kathleen Lauze with devising the plan since it has worked so well at Pakachoag.

The new classroom became necessary with an unusually high number of first graders at Bryn Mawr. Enrollment anomalies occur regularly, and the District has responded appropriately and maintained its commitment to smaller elementary classroom sizes. At the same time, interestingly enough, one Kindergarten class has been eliminated at Pakachoag due to an enrollment dip.

District wide enrollment has been fairly consistent over the past 15 years with a low of 2295 in 2007 and a high of 2520 this

The new classroom at Bryn Mawr awaits cleaning and paint. © John R. Anderson

past year. In recent years, the Pre-K program has also contributed with 67 participants in 2015 and 86 in 2016. Increased school choice seats at the middle and high school levels add to the totals as well. These students bring state dollars into the District with little impact on staffing or programs since there is breathing room at both levels.

Auburn Mass Daily sends a sincere thank you to the administrators, custodians and contractors who make every year better for the students and staff of the Auburn Public School District. Joe Fahey also deserves special thanks for planning improvements, managing repairs and keeping projects moving in a positive direction.