Board approves SAD 51 budget, closing Drowne Road School

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CUMBERLAND — The School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors on Monday approved a fiscal 2012 budget and the closing of Drowne Road School.

The Cumberland-North Yarmouth district’s $28.9 million spending plan was OK’d 7-1, with board member Bill Dunnett opposed.

If approved at two public votes in upcoming weeks, next year’s budget will increase by more than $821,000 from the current year. Of that 2.93 percent increase, 1.62 percent is for operations while 1.31 percent reflects debt service from the recent renovation and expansion of Greely High School.

The budget increase follows three years of flat budgets of $28 million.

In fiscal years 2010 and 2011, 31.5 district jobs were eliminated. Next year’s budget calls for cutting a sixth grade Greely Middle School teacher and an interpreter for hearing impaired students. New positions include an interventionist, to work with students requiring different strategies to meet educational standards at the elementary level, as well as three educational technicians.

Cumberland’s tax assessment is due to increase by more than $524,000, to $12.3 million. North Yarmouth’s should rise by more than $296,000, to nearly $5 million.

SAD 51 received $11.2 million in state subsidy for fiscal 2011, which included more than $802,000 in federal money. Next year’s subsidy, with no more federal funds, is projected to be $10.7 million, a nearly $459,000 drop. The district will use $500,000 in money saved from previous years to offset the loss.

The district budget meeting will be held at Greely High School at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 9. The budget validation referendum is on June 14.

Drowne Road School

The School Board also voted 6-2, with Bob Vail and Dunnett opposed, to close the Drowne Road School. The vote followed the board’s decision last year to move third grade to the Mabel I. Wilson School, and to use Drowne Road for other purposes.

A public hearing on the decision will be held in the Greely Middle School cafeteria at 7 p.m. Monday, May 23. Voters will decide the school’s fate in a June 14 referendum.

If the school is closed, it will revert back to the town. SAD 51 administrators have said the closing will save more than $244,000 next year.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.