CUMBERLAND — After approval at a May 23 district budget meeting, next year’s School Administrative District 51 budget heads to a final decision by Cumberland and North Yarmouth voters on June 11.

Last week’s meeting, held at the new Greely Center for the Arts, drew 70 voters and lasted only 42 minutes, Superintendent Jeff Porter said the next day. Aside from one question about whether any administrator recommendations for special education did not get funded, the budget line items drew no other comment, he said.

Porter noted that the recommendations did get funded, although a special education teacher ($100,000 including benefits) is proposed to be cut next year through attrition, because of a reduced caseload.

Budget information can be found at msad51.org.

This spirit of this budget season is a marked contrast from a year ago, when the Town Councilissued a resolution calling for the SAD 51 Board of Directors to find ways to reduce spending and the tax burden. At the time, SAD 51 experienced a $442,000 loss in state subsidy, which in the prior three years had declined by more than $1 million, Porter said.

But although the fiscal year 2020 budget of $38.4 million reflects a 2.84% spending increase, it is due to have no impact on Cumberland and North Yarmouth tax rates.

A revenue jump in state aid to education has largely offset $1.06 million in increased expenses. The district expects to receive $11.8 million in state aid to education – a $961,000 increase over fiscal year 2019, and the most SAD 51 has received since 2017. The subsidy still depends on legislative approval.

Projected district revenues, including the state subsidy, total $12.1 million, a 6.88% hike.

When those revenues are subtracted from the total budget, $26.3 million remains to be assessed to the two towns. Cumberland’s share would be just less than $19 million, while North Yarmouth’s would be about $7.5 million.

While the local share is up 1.09%, hikes in revenues and property valuations in the two towns offset that increase, resulting in no impact to either town’s tax rate.

Regular instruction, which consumes the largest portion of spending, totals $17.3 million, a 3.62% increase. Special education, totaling $6.9 million, is up 1.71%. Debt service is $2.8 million, a 3.77% hike, due to payments for the new Greely Center for the Arts.

SAD 51 is also adding a $265,000 pre-kindergarten program.

Voting on June 11 in North Yarmouth will take place at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 247 Walnut Hill Road, from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Polls will be open in Cumberland the same hours at Town Hall, 290 Tuttle Road.

Alex Lear can be reached at 780-9085 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.


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