Voters in the Cumberland-North Yarmouth school district will be asked next month to allow the SAD 51 board to spend $10,000 for an option to buy two acres of land priced at $756,000 next to the campus in Cumberland.

The school board voted unanimously last week to put the purchase option on the June 13 ballot, when residents will also vote on the $73 million proposed school budget the board approved Monday.

The adjacent land parcel is needed to relieve some of the overcrowding in the district, according to Superintendent Jeff Porter and SAD 51 Finance Director Scott Poulin, but it would not be used for a new elementary school. The property’s use would be decided by the facilities committee, and Porter said there is a “laundry list” of possibilities, including its use as outdoor learning space and better traffic flow.

“We’ve had a number of opportunities over the years to purchase land adjacent to the campus,” Poulin said. “Each time we’ve failed to do so, we’ve regretted it.”

The two acres between Main Street and Tuttle Road are appraised at $720,000, according to an email SAD 51 board Chairperson Jason Record sent to district residents. The $756,000 asking price would be financed over five years at a rate of 3%, he said.

Record declined to speak to a Forecaster reporter about the potential purchase option, and referred questions to Porter.


Porter said the price of the land is reasonable, and he hopes voters understand the need for more space on campus.

“I hope that residents see this as an opportunity to expand the footprint of our campus,” Porter said. “This is a forever decision.”

Residents took to Facebook to share their opinions on the proposed purchase. While a few residents noted that land in the center of Cumberland is scarce and may be valuable, most were concerned about the cost of the land, with one calling it “highway robbery.” Some noted that money would be better spent on wage increases for ed techs and other support staff who have been working without a contract since last June.

The $47 million school budget for the next school year approved by the board Monday, up $3.2 million over this year’s budget, comes with tax impact slightly less than expected.

Property owners in Cumberland will see their taxes go up 2.9% to support schools, and taxpayers in North Yarmouth should expect a 2.6% increase, Porter said. In Cumberland, the annual tax bill would go up $61 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, he said, for an increase of $305 on a $500,000 home. In North Yarmouth, the tax bill would go up $47 per $100,000, he said, for an increase of $235 on a $500,000 home. Those increases do not reflect any increases resulting from the town’s new budgets.

The budget includes $2 million from the reserve fund for portable classrooms to alleviate overcrowding at Mabel I. Wilson Elementary School. While the budget does not directly address wage increases for ed techs, it includes a $770,000 increase for salaries and benefits and additional staff.

“Our enrollment keeps increasing, so we have to have more teachers on the budget,” Porter said.

A districtwide budget meeting is scheduled for May 18 at the Greely Center for the Arts. The validation referendum will be held at town polling locations June 13.

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