Cumberland-North Yarmouth school budget could increase more than 4%

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CUMBERLAND — The fiscal year 2015 School Administrative District 51 budget, unveiled at Monday’s School Board meeting, could increase 4.22 percent to $32.6 million.

About $20.2 million could come from taxes, with $14.3 million to be paid by Cumberland, and $5.9 million by North Yarmouth.

Cumberland’s tax rate could increase 2 percent, or 33 cents per $1,000 of property valuation. North Yarmouth’s increase could be 3.8 percent, or 62 cents per $1,000.

Increased property valuation in both towns – building up the property tax base – has helped reduce the hike from 4.59 percent in Cumberland and 4.78 percent in North Yarmouth, according to SAD 51 Finance Director Scott Poulin.

Expenses contributing to the $1.3 million hike include about $545,000 in salaries, nearly $222,000 in health costs, about $115,000 in technology, and about $304,000 in administrative priorities, to better respond to student needs in a timely fashion, Poulin said.

Those priorities include adding positions such as a district-wide community resource manager, a board-certified behavioral analyst and assistive technology positions under special education, and increased social worker, literacy support and leadership support staffing at Greely High School.

“We have good status now, and we have some challenges ahead that we’re responding to in the budget,” such as ensuring that all students demonstrate proficiency, said Sally Loughlin, the district director of curriculum, assessment, instruction and professional development, who is also serving as interim superintendent.

Reductions offsetting the increases include a nearly $30,000 drop in debt service, and about $278,000 saved by closing North Yarmouth Memorial School. An additional nearly $21,000 is saved by eliminating a kitchen manager position.

About $88,000 in capital expenditures is saved by closing the North Yarmouth school, but those savings are reflected outside of the general fund budget, Poulin said.

Among revenues are an approximately $463,000 increase in state subsidy, to $11.8 million.

The School Board will hold a budget workshop in the Greely High School library at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 22, followed by a meeting with administrators there at 7 p.m. Monday, March 24. The board is scheduled to approve a spending plan for a public hearing April 7, with the hearing to be held April 10.

The board will then take a final vote on the budget May 5. District voters will decide twice on the spending plan – at a town meeting-style gathering June 5, and finally at a budget validation referendum June 10.

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.