Do Scarborough’s K-8 schools need significant improvements? Yes. Is the proposed $160 million mega-school solution the best one? We don’t think so. And we are urging a no vote at the Nov. 7 referendum.

SMARTaxes stands for Scarborough Maine Advocates for Reasonable Taxes. Like the vast majority of Scarborough residents, we recognize that providing a high quality public education is a fundamental community responsibility. However, we do not believe the proposal to construct an 1,130-student consolidated elementary school in The Downs is the best solution to our current and future needs.

Another approach must be found that better balances our commitment to continuing the Town’s history of educational excellence with the need to maintain property taxes at a reasonable and affordable level. The $160 million mega-school does not accomplish these twin goals.

We have numerous significant reservations about the proposed school project. Among the most prominent:

First, the proposed school is 22% larger than the State Department of Education guidelines. Since the final cost of the building is directly related to its size, taxpayers are being asked to pay for a school that is significantly larger than State guidelines.

Second, the Town has provided confusing and evasive information on the tax impact of the project. The model used to generate the projected impact is exceedingly complex, and overly optimistic assumptions have been made in calculating the tax impact.


Third, the proposal shuts down the three neighborhood K-2 schools that have historically been an important part of the Town’s appeal to families and have contributed strongly to our sense of community. The decision to replace these schools with a massive 1,130-student mega-school did not receive adequate public input or a fair financial evaluation.

Fourth, the site selection process failed to adequately evaluate alternative sites to The Downs and did not consider the impact of the proposed location on the Sawyer Road/Track View Terrace neighborhood which will be irreparably harmed.

Finally, the Town was coerced into a financially disastrous deal with The Downs for the proposed site, paying our “partner” more than $300,000 per acre for the land and making outrageous concessions to The Downs on unrelated matters that will further enrich the developers.

The proposed K-3 school would be by far the largest capital project the Town has ever undertaken. If approved, it would be one of the largest elementary schools in the State. And the most expensive municipally-financed school ever built in Maine. While we are strongly supportive of Scarborough kids continuing to receive a high quality education, we believe a more modest solution should be found which better balances educational excellence and taxpayer affordability. In short, we believe we can do better while still maintaining Scarborough’s tradition of educational excellence.

For more information on the proposed project from a taxpayer’s perspective, please visit

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