With the Mabel I. Wilson School in Cumberland over capacity, School Administrative District 51 looks to build a new primary school in North Yarmouth or Cumberland. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

CUMBERLAND — The School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors voted Nov. 2 in favor of a committee’s recommendation to build a new primary school in the Cumberland-North Yarmouth system.

The vote on the Elementary Education Steering Committee’s recommendation was unanimous, with member Peter Bingham absent. He had submitted a letter in support of the project, Superintendent Jeff Porter said Dec. 6.

A newly-formed Building Committee will now work with project architect Oak Point Associates to investigate three potential sites and associated cost estimates, for the pre-kindergarten to second grade school. The panel could suggest a top site by late January or early February 2020, with a final concept design due that June, Porter said.

The School Board is to vote in June on that design, and then in September on whether to send the project to the November 2020 referendum.

Two sites in the center of North Yarmouth are on the table: one near Wescustogo Hall & Community Center and one at Sharp’s Field, next to Town Hall. A town-owned tract in Cumberland, bordered by Tuttle Road and the Town Forest, is also being considered.

Increasing enrollment has triggered the push for a new school. Two independent surveys concluded 10 years ago that enrollment this year would be 1,775-1,831, but the level reached 2,129 this year, including 28 pre-K students. A study done in October forecasts enrollment to surpass 2,700 by 2028-29.

Enrollment at the Mabel I. Wilson School, which houses pre-kindergarten to third grade and has a capacity for 600 students, has risen from 541 in March 2015 to 692 this September, causing three modular classrooms to be installed outside the building.

If built, the new school could be about 90,000 square feet, and house up to 700 students, Porter said. The Wilson school is about 81,000 square feet.

The Building Committee, due to meet next week for the first time, has 14 members: four administrators, two teachers, four School Board members and a parent and community member from each town.

School Board members are leaning toward the school being built in North Yarmouth, which would create the first SAD 51 presence in that town since SAD 51 closed the North Yarmouth Memorial School in 2014. The School Board, North Yarmouth Select Board and Cumberland Town Council will likely meet next month to discuss the project, Select Board Chairman Bill Whitten said Dec. 6.

While it is “kind of unfortunate” that NYMS – now part of the Wescustogo Hall & Community Center – was closed and partly demolished, “we’re moving ahead,” Whitten said, pointing out the continued growth in both SAD 51 communities.

“I think we need a school in the town,” he said. “It adds to making North Yarmouth a part of the (SAD 51) system.”

Comments are not available on this story.