December 20, 2012

Voters to decide fate of deterioriating N. Yarmouth school

Cumberland residents will also help determine whether to move students to a Freely Middle School addition.

By Matt Byrne mbyrne@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Voters in North Yarmouth and Cumberland will decide in June whether to close the deteriorating North Yarmouth Memorial School.

Under a plan passed Monday, the 300 students in grades 4 and 5 would go to the proposed $2 million addition at Greely Middle School.

North Yarmouth Memorial School, built hastily in 1977 after a fire destroyed a previous school, does not meet modern construction standards and is nearing the end of its usable life, said school board Co-Chair Jeff Porter.

Porter said the wood-frame structure has cost the district $600,000 in the last decade, including costly repairs to a leaky roof, mold caused by infiltrating water, an aging boiler, and invasive animals in the school’s attic.

“You name it,” Porter said, running down the list.

The district stands to save about $380,000 a year in operating costs by closing the school, he said.

One board member, Bob Vail, dissented in the vote, objecting to the project’s cost. Vail did not return a call for comment.

If voters approve the plan, School Administrative District 51 will close the last school in North Yarmouth. Greely Middle School in Cumberland, with students in grades 6 through 8, would get a new wing for the younger students, Porter said.

The construction would add six classrooms, a handful of multipurpose resource rooms and cafeteria space. Students would move starting in 2014, Porter said.

Space for the younger students would be separated from the middle school space, with accommodations for pickup and drop-off, a playground and transportation.

Parents had previously raised concerns about mixing the grades, and residents of North Yarmouth expressed sadness that they would no longer have a school in town.

“Whenever there is a change or a closure, there is a tremendous sense of loss,” said Bethany Hanley, a member of the communications committee. “It’s hard to quantify that.”

Staff Writer Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

mbyrne@mainetoday.com

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