Budget, closing 1 school, expanding another go to SAD 51 voters

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CUMBERLAND — Along with deciding whether to adopt next year’s budget, voters in School Administrative District 51 will decide whether to close North Yarmouth Memorial School and move those students to an expanded Greely Middle School.

The proposed nearly $31.3 million fiscal 2014 budget, which reflects a more than 2.8 percent increase over the current year, first goes to a district budget meeting vote in the Greely High School gym on June 6 at 7 p.m.

The spending plan then has a final referendum vote in Cumberland and North Yarmouth on June 11.

Included in the budget is about $422,000 in costs being shifted to the school district from the state to fund employees now covered by the state retirement system. While the state and employees have previously contributed to the funding, Gov. Paul LePage is calling for school districts to pay the state’s share.

Without that cost shift, the district’s budget would only increase 1.4 percent.

Revenues offsetting expenses include $400,000 from the current and previous fiscal years in an undesignated fund balance; about $215,000 in debt from Chebeague Island, which seceded from SAD 51 and Cumberland in 2007; $35,000 in miscellaneous revenue; and $11.3 million in state subsidy.

The remaining $19.2 million to be raised would come from Cumberland and North Yarmouth taxpayers. Cumberland’s assessment would increase 3.7 percent; new value caused that town’s tax increase to be 1.2 percent, or an extra $69 a year for a $300,000 home in that town. 

North Yarmouth’s assessment could increase about 1.4 percent, resulting in an extra $75 in taxes for a $300,000 home.

The proposed budget does not eliminate any jobs.

School closure, expansion

SAD 51 voters will also decide June 11 on closure of the North Yarmouth school, and whether to borrow $2 million to expand and renovate Greely Middle School to accommodate the North Yarmouth fourth- and fifth-graders.

Operational savings from closing the 36-year-old building, approved by the School Board last December, are estimated at nearly $562,000.

Renovating Greely Middle School would add debt service of $178,000 a year over two decades, according to Scott Poulin, the district finance director.

The net annual savings to the district would be nearly $384,000.

Poulin has said renovation of the North Yarmouth school could cost about $7 million and create annual debt service payments of $623,000.

The Greely renovation would include extra classroom and cafeteria space. The parking lot would be reconfigured to accommodate fourth- and fifth-grade staff and visitors.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or [email protected]. 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.