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

The SAD 51 board, in a revote last week, reconfirmed its intent to build a new school on a 72-acre site at 80 Gray Road in North Yarmouth.

The Cumberland-North Yarmouth School Board voted June 20 to move forward with the $1.2 million purchase option for a future project, but because four new members have since joined the board, it agreed to take another vote Sept. 7.

“We wanted an opportunity to discuss this motion publicly,” Board Chairperson Leanne Candura said at the meeting.

All board members voted in favor of the site except for Tim Valenti, who abstained. Elected in June, Valenti said he felt he didn’t have enough information to make an informed decision. He did say, however, that he was concerned that voters in the district wouldn’t like the board’s plan.

“I’m very worried about going down the same path as last year,” Valenti said. “This looks very much like what we had last year, which failed.”

Voters shot down a $73.9 million project for a K-2 school at the Gray Road site last November. Some voters at the time said the site was unnecessarily large and was too expensive.


“If you don’t change anything, you’re going to get a ‘no’ again, and we’re going to keep doing this,” Cumberland resident Bill Young told the board last week. “It’s getting old.”

The board reminded the audience that its vote was only to secure the site, and that no new plans have been presented for a school project to alleviate overcrowding in the district.

Voters must approve the land purchase. The board has not yet selected a referendum date and will not do so until at least October, according to Candura.

Recently appointed interim board member Denny Gallaudet recommended that the board reconsider the inclusion of net zero features in the building plan, such as geothermal heating, because they would drastically increase the cost of the building.

Instead, the board should focus on building a low-carbon emission school.

“The Cumberland Climate Action Plan focuses on carbon emissions pretty much exclusively, and calls for new public buildings to be consistent with a zero carbon standard,” Gallaudet said.

Superintendent Jeff Porter expressed his interest in these environmentally friendly features, but noted that discussion on these features would come up at a later time.

This story was edited Sept. 18 to correct Gallaudet’s comments on net zero features.

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