An updated master site plan of the Greely campus in Cumberland shows the potential location, in blue, of a school for students in pre-K through first grade, along with expansion areas at Mabel I. Wilson Elementary School and Greely Middle School. Contributed / SAD 51

In an about-face from ongoing plans to build a new school in North Yarmouth, SAD 51 Superintendent Jeff Porter is now proposing a smaller primary school be built on the Greely campus in Cumberland.

The purchase this summer of 2.3 acres abutting the campus can accommodate a school for pre-K through Grade 1, Porter told the Cumberland-North Yarmouth School Board last week.

Porter and other school officials for months have backed a 76-acre site at 80 Gray Road in North Yarmouth as the best option for a new school to alleviate overcrowding in the district. At the school board meeting Nov. 6, he said he now has “cold feet” about that location and fears residents would again reject a second proposal there.

Voters a year ago overwhelmingly voted down a $73.9 million bond for preK-Grade 2 school at that site and renovations at Mabel I. Wilson Elementary.

“This project can’t fail again,” he said. “I’m eating the humble pie, because not long ago, I talked about how we can’t do it on the campus.”

Voters in June approved the $756,000 purchase of the 2.3 acres near the campus. At the time, school officials said the land could be used for a variety of options, such as outdoor learning areas and to improve traffic flow, but that it could not accommodate a new school.


Stephen Blatt, an architect who has been developing the master site plan for the Greely campus, later informed Porter it could.

“I expected the answer would probably be no,” Porter said. “He came back a few days later and said ‘you can do it.’”

In order to make a one-campus plan work, a three-step investment will be necessary, Porter said. The first step would be to build a school for pre-K through first grade on the campus and then shift grade spans at the Mabel I. Wilson and middle schools. The campus can handle a new school for up to 500 students, although Porter told The Forecaster “we’re projecting that the school would never be at a point where it’s no more than 450 students.”

The Maine Department of Transportation would then help modify roadways and parking lots on campus, which Porter said are already congested. Mabel I. Wilson facility upgrades would be needed, as well as new playground and athletic areas.

Some members of the school board, which reconfirmed in September its intent to build a new school on the 76-acre Gray Road site, said last week they were concerned the growing student population would eventually get too big for one campus.

“I think it’s a great opportunity, but I really want to be sure that we’re building something that works for the future,” Christina Mitchell said.


New projected enrollment figures should be released sometime in December, Mitchell said. If that data aligns with current projections, the campus could work as the site for a new school, she said.

If the projected student population increase is higher, Blatt has identified one area at Mabel I. Wilson School and two areas at Greely Middle School that could be used to expand the schools, Porter said. In addition, a water retaining area on the campus could be paved over with concrete and used for additional building space.

“There are expansion areas on the campus that are sufficient enough to be able to handle growth and enrollment,” Porter said.

The plan will be further discussed at a school board meeting next month.

“I appreciate this recommendation, but I think that we should take a breath,” school board member Tim Valenti said.

This article was edited Nov. 15 to correct the nature of the June vote and the timing of the school board’s next discussion on the superintendent’s proposal. 

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