The proposed $47 million SAD 51 budget for the new school year is up about 7%.

The proposal, $3.2 million more than this year’s budget, would increase school tax bills in Cumberland by about 4.6% on top of any property tax increase resulting from the town budget, which is still being developed. The portion of the Cumberland property tax rate to support education would increase 97 cents, resulting in an additional $97 per year per $100,000 of assessed value.

North Yarmouth, also part of SAD 51, has not yet calculated the proposed school budget’s impact on its its tax rate.

“This is the largest expenditure increase that we’ve had in a decade,” Superintendent Jeff Porter said at a town council meeting last week.

Plans for the new year include replacing existing modular classrooms at Mabel I. Wilson with a new 12-room unit and a restructuring of the school’s outdoor play area for $2,050,000. That expense will be paid with reserve funds and and does not impact taxpayers, Porter said.

Cumberland Town Manager Bill Shane said at a council meeting that he was “blown away” by the cost of the modular classrooms project, and hopes the drastic addition to the budget will cause those who voted against a referendum for a new SAD 51 elementary school last November to rethink their stance.


“We have to get a message out to the public that this isn’t going to get cheaper,” Shane said. “I wish everyone in the community could sit down at a meeting like this and hear some of this stuff.”

Mabel I. Wilson School and Greely Middle School are both projected to add at least 10 new students for the 2023-24 school year.

“A lot of enrollment has caught up with us,” Porter said. “We’ve had a lot of needs that have caught up to us, including inflation and all of those things factored in.”

The new budget increases spending for special education and school administration. The proposed $8.6 million budget for special education is up 9.7% from this year’s, and the proposed $1.9 million budget for school administration is up 4.6%. It does not specifically address raises for ed techs and secretaries, who have been working without a contract since June of 2022.

Graham Shove, president of the SAD 51 Education Association, could not be reached for comment.

A public hearing for the proposed school budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, April 24, in the Gyger Room at Greely High School. The SAD 51 board will take a final vote on the budget May 1.  The two-part public approval process includes a May 18 school district budget meeting and the validation referendum June 13.

 This article was updated April 23 to provide more detail on the SAD 51 budget approval process.

This article and its headline was edited May 15 to correct that the more than $2 million in funding for the modular classrooms is coming from a reserve fund and will not increase property taxes in SAD 51. 

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