SAD 51 plans to build a new school on this land at 80 Gray Road in North Yarmouth. Rachel Vitello / The Forecaster

SAD 51 has 77 acres in North Yarmouth under contract in its third attempt to build a new elementary school to handle increased enrollments.

Pending approval in June, the Cumberland-North Yarmouth district will buy the property at 80 Gray Road for $1.25 million. The tract is part of a 13-lot subdivision owned by Ben Grover.

The property is “conducive for a new school” because it is clear of any trees and is not located in an area that would create substantial traffic congestion, Superintendent Jeff Porter said.

The Oak Point Associates architectural firm will present two design proposals to the school board in April. One possibility is a single building that would house pre-K through third grade. The other puts two smaller buildings at the site, one for pre-K and kindergarten and the other for grades 1-3.

A new elementary school for the district was first proposed after a 2016 study showed a significant increase over the next decade over the 2,102 students now enrolled. It’s estimated that enrollment will increase by 50 students for the 2022-2023 school year and increase by 114 students by the 2024-2025 school year.

“The study in 2019 showed that we would essentially be short by a school,” Porter said. “The increases began at the elementary level, but are spilling into the middle school. In 2015, there were 540 students at Mabel I. Wilson (elementary); today there are 720 students enrolled. It’s estimated there will be 760-something students enrolled next year. That’s a fairly large increase.”


The Gray Road property, just under 77 acres, will remain under contract with SAD 51 until the referendum vote in June, which will be held on the same day as the school budget validation vote.

The district hopes to have the new school fully operational no later than September 2025, Porter said.

In March 2020, SAD 51 planned to build a new school in North Yarmouth Village, near Wescustogo Hall. That plan fell through because of concerns about its proximity to an aqueduct and about creating congested traffic in the village center.

The second plan was to build at SAD 51’s campus in Cumberland, which includes Greely High School and Greely Middle School.

“The Board (of Directors) was under contract for 2.5 acres adjacent to the campus and there was a design completed to have a new building on that site,” Porter said. “During the process, we ran into some problems with a lot of work that needed to be done on Main Street and Tuttle Road that the Department of Transportation said needed to be completed, which would have been very expensive. It included left-turning lanes and basically changing the look of Main Street. There was also a lot of concern about whether there was room on campus for expansion, or if it would become too crowded.”

Porter said he doesn’t believe any complications about the Gray Road site will arise that will force the district to move to a fourth plan.

This story was updated Dec. 22 to correct the new school’s expected opening date to 2025. 

Enrollment projections for SAD 51 by Wandell Consulting. Contributed / SAD 51

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