CUMBERLAND — The School Administrative District 51 budget next year could increase nearly 3 percent under a proposed spending plan presented Monday evening by Superintendent Robert Hasson.

The $28.9 million fiscal 2012 budget is about $821,000 larger than this year’s budget. More than half of the 2.93 percent increase is for operations, while 1.31 percent reflects debt service from the recent renovation and expansion of Greely High School.

The budget increase would follow three years of flat spending of $28 million.

“In order to maintain the quality of the system and to maintain our initiatives, you need to acknowledge some growth, after three years of no growth on the operating budget,” Hasson said.

The Cumberland-North Yarmouth district received $11.2 million in state subsidy this year, which included more than $802,000 in federal money. The 2012 subsidy, with no more federal funds, is $10.7 million, a reduction of nearly $459,000. The district would use $500,000 in money saved from previous years to mitigate that revenue loss.

Of the $17.3 million total assessment to be billed to SAD 51’s two towns, Cumberland would be taxed $12.3 million, an increase of 4.4 percent, and North Yarmouth would be taxed nearly $5 million, an increase of 6.3 percent.

Fiscal years 2010 and 2011 saw the elimination of 31.5 jobs in the district. Next year’s budge proposes cutting a Greely Middle School teacher and an interpreter for hearing impaired students. New positions would include an interventionist who would work with students requiring different strategies to meet educational standards at the middle school, and three educational technicians.

The School Board will vote April 4 to send the budget to an April 14 public hearing. The board will vote May 9 to approve a budget and the district budget meeting will occur on June 9. A final budget validation referendum will be held June 14.

The School Board is also due to vote May 9 on whether to close the Drowne Road School. This vote will follow the board’s decision last year to move third grade to the Mabel I. Wilson school, and to use Drowne Road for other purposes. Should the board vote to close the school, a public hearing will be held May 23, followed by a referendum on June 14.

If the school is closed, it will revert back to the town. Closing the school would save more than $244,000 in fiscal 2012, according to SAD 51 administrators.

Total enrollment in SAD 51 next year is expected to drop by 45 students, to 2,079. The decline is expected to continue, to 1,518 students by 2020.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or [email protected].

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