A preliminary rendering of the upper entrance of the proposed K-3 Primary School in Scarborough. Contributed / Harriman

A proposed $160.3 million school project in Scarborough could increase taxes $200 to $400 per year for the owner of home assessed at $400,000 during the peak of the borrowing period, town officials said this week.

Roughly $16,500 of that taxpayer’s money over the 30-year bond period would go toward the school project, less than 5% of their taxes over that time, according to the town’s preliminary estimates. That takes into account a 3% annual increase in property taxes in general, property value growth and other potential big projects such as a library and community center.

The Scarborough Town Council will vote Wednesday on whether to ask voters in November to authorize borrowing $160,323,066 for the new K-3 school at The Downs, renovations at the middle school and surrounding road improvements.

The K-3 school, which would replace the town’s existing three K-2 schools and absorb third graders from Wentworth, is estimated to cost just over $140 million, with an additional $4.1 million in middle school renovations.

A preliminary rendering of the lower entrance of the proposed K-3 school. Contributed / Harriman

A roughly 22-acre land parcel adjacent to the old race track at The Downs will cost $7,320,400. As part of the purchase agreement with owners and developers, Crossroads Holdings, Scarborough will pay roughly $3 million for off-site improvements within developer-owned land, $1.8 million for an easterly access road and $4 million for improvements along Sawyer Road.

The Downs will be responsible for other improvements, including $6 million in off-site improvements surrounding the new school.


“We’re not paying fully for all these roads, we’ve agreed to a proportional payment based on the impacts that this project is potentially going to have on this development,” Town Council Chairperson Jon Anderson said Tuesday at a community Q&A session. “If we were to build this school anywhere else in Scarborough, we’d be doing the same thing at another location.”

In a preliminary vote Aug. 16, the council agreed to put the project on the November ballot.

A purchase option agreement between the town and The Downs was approved by the council in early August. That agreement fell through by its deadline of Aug. 9 after The Downs requested new conditions to the deal that required council re-approval. The cost of the purchase remains the same under terms of a new agreement and the conditions will be attached to the Sept. 6 Town Council meeting agenda, which will be released Friday, Sept. 1, at scarboroughmaine.org, Anderson said.

The old agreement called for the town to have “undertaken reasonable efforts” to adopt and amend zoning ordinances within the Crossroads Planned Development District to reduce buffer and setback requirements and “also include the addition of restaurants with no drive-through service other than coffee shops or coffee kiosks … as a permitted use in the CPD District.” Another clause required amendments to the Scarborough Downtown Omnibus TIF District.

The new school is needed to alleviate overcrowding in the district, school and town officials say. Scarborough schools in 2027 will not have room for the projected 950 K-3 students, up from the current 850, according to a 2022 enrollment study. Handling that increase would require a costly temporary solution, according to the school department.

“Our educators and our teachers are going to keep doing awesome work, but they’re going to keep doing it in facilities that don’t fit (the needs of) the community and kids,” Superintendent Geoff Bruno said at the community session. “That costs additional money to Band-Aid all of the things that we’ve been Band-Aiding for years, and it also costs money in that we’re continuing to kick the problem down the road even further to the detriment of the community, to the detriment of our kids and our staff and our educators. That’s really the cost, to me.”

The school department also says schools are running out of space for additional portable classrooms.

More information about the school project can be found at scarboroughschoolsolution.org.

The property layout of the proposed primary school. Contributed / Scarborough School Department

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