The SAD 51 School Board has unanimously agreed to move forward with the purchase of a North Yarmouth site that was part of a proposal for a new school that voters rejected last year.

The board voted June 20 to commit to its $1.2 million purchase option on the 76-acre site at 80 Gray Road, where it still hopes to build a K-2 school. Voters must decide whether to allow the district to buy the land, and a date for that referendum will be set at the board’s July 17 meeting.

Plans for a new school project are still in the works to alleviate overcrowding in the Cumberland-North Yarmouth district, but Superintendent Jeff Porter told The Forecaster that changes to the design that was part of the 2022 proposal would be minimal, if any.

“I expect changes will not be significant, as it would be an extensive process to redesign the school and would extend the timeline too far out,” Porter said last week. He could not be reached this week before The Forecaster’s deadline to comment further on a timeline for the latest project.

After 55% of voters defeated a $79 million bond proposal for a new school last year, the district approved a five-year facilities plan intended as a short-term fix for overcrowding that included rearranging modular classrooms at the Mabel I. Wilson school and adding more modulars at Greely Middle School.

The school board renewed the purchase option on the Gray Road land in December and in March also sent out requests for alternative sites. Three new options were submitted and reviewed, and the 80 Gray Road site was still the best choice, board members said.


“80 Gray Road includes an opportunity to expand if needed,” member Kim Vine said. “It’s smart planning to not only have a site that’s big enough for the current school, but for an expansion if needed.”

One alternative site considered, a 33-acre parcel in North Yarmouth, wouldn’t work because of factors such as its wetlands and a possible vernal brook, Oak Point Associates Civil Engineer Jacques Gagnon told the board.

“This site does not appear to be very appropriate for the intended use,” Gagnon said.

A second site, 15 acres on Main Street in Cumberland, was too small and its back portion consisted mostly of wetlands, Gagnon said.

The third site, about 18 acres on a side street off Tuttle Road in Cumberland, had only eight acres of developable land, he said.

A $73.9 million bond proposal to build a new elementary school at the Gray Road site failed at the polls last November, 4,443 to 3,596. Some voters said at the time that buying 76 acres was excessive when the school would only use five of them. Others said the site was too expensive.


Record resigns

Meanwhile, Jeff Record, a proponent of the school project, resigned from the SAD 51 board last week. His term expires in 2024.

Record declined to comment on his resignation.

The superintendent, in a statement to The Forecaster, did not give a reason for Record’s departure. He said he was sorry to sorry to see Record go.

“I have enjoyed working with him, especially over the last year when he was chair,” Porter said. Record was board chairperson for 2022-2023.

“I always found Jason to have all students’ best interest in mind, and I appreciated his voice and advocacy on so many important issues facing the district,” he said.

Leanne Candura was selected as new board chairperson at the June 20 meeting, prior to Record’s resignation.

The Cumberland Town Council will appoint an interim school board member to fill the remainder of Record’s term. Cumberland residents who are interested in the position should contact Brenda Moore with a letter of interest by email at or by mail at Town of Cumberland, 290 Tuttle Road, Cumberland, Maine 04021. The deadline is July 14.

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