Cumberland-North Yarmouth school budget may grow 2.8%

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CUMBERLAND — School Administrative District 51 unveiled a fiscal year 2018 budget Monday that could raise taxes by more than 6.5 percent.

Superintendent Jeff Porter is proposing a $35.9 million spending plan, up about 2.8 percent from this year.

With nearly $12 million in revenues such as state subsidy subtracted, nearly $24 million would be levied in taxes to Cumberland and North Yarmouth property owners.

The district, which received $11.9 million in state aid for fiscal year 2017, faces a potential subsidy loss of nearly $896,000. But having heard indications from Augusta that more money could be allocated toward education, SAD 51 has factored in a loss of about $464,000, or half the potential deduction.

The tax assessment to Cumberland could be $17.2 million, an increase of 3.56 percent once new valuation is factored in. North Yarmouth could be taxed $6.8 million, a 3.9 percent hike, Porter said.

A home valued at $350,000 would see a $238 tax increase in Cumberland and a $241.50 increase in North Yarmouth.

Comparing its tax assessment per-pupil cost to nearby high-performing districts, SAD 51 spends more than $11,800, compared with $11,700 in Yarmouth, almost $13,100 in Falmouth and nearly $13,500 in Cape Elizabeth, Porter reported during Monday’s budget presentation.

Without cutting $490,000 from the draft budget, and not funding about $475,000 in other proposed expenditures, the spending plan would have increased 5.59 percent, Porter said.

Significant reductions include not filling a soon-to-be-vacant teaching position at Greely High School ($55,000); a drop in debt service ($64,000); not filling a vacant custodial position ($45,000); and a budget freeze in the current fiscal cycle that would allow SAD 51 to pay off existing leases this year, to offset expenses next year ($200,000).

Items that were recommended but are not slated for funding include an alternative education teacher ($55,000); classroom furniture ($44,000); technology purchases ($56,000); a science lab teacher ($55,000); and deferring $130,000 in payments for a climate control system project at the Mabel I. Wilson elementary school to fiscal year 2019, paying only $50,000 next year.

Proposal additions for next year’s budget – totaling $380,000 – include the $50,000 payment for Wilson, as well as $50,000 for a network upgrade to address bandwidth issues; $90,000 for a school bus, for which the state could reimburse the district; and $55,000 for a new teacher to address increased enrollment at Wilson school.

The budget is subject to change in the weeks to come, as members of the SAD 51 Board of Directors and the public alike have opportunities to weigh in.

A School Board budget workshop will be held in the Greely High School library at 6 p.m. Monday, April 10. A public hearing on the budget will be held at Greely at 7 p.m. Monday, April 24. The board is set to adopt the budget May 1, after which voters will get two cracks at it – at a district budget meeting May 18, and at referendum June 13.

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

School Administrative District 51 Superintendent Jeff Porter, shown at Greely High School in Cumberland Monday, introduces his proposed budget for next year.

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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.
  • bullseye

    Fund your school budget or suffer.

    Close to 15 million new jobs will be created in the U.S. over the next decade as a direct result of automation and artificial intelligence, equivalent to 10% of the workforce, according to estimates in a new report from Forrester Research, a market research company. Those gains, however, will not come close to offsetting the 25 million jobs that technology will eliminate by 2027, Forrester predicts.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-is-how-many-us-jobs-robots-and-automation-will-create-over-the-next-10-years-2017-04-04

    Fund your school budget or suffer.

  • Watchful Eye

    Wow! How generic of you. This school system just got the kids a “World Stage” to do arts. Now you add this increase to other town wants and it drives taxes out of bounds for a lot of townspeople. I live in North Yarmouth. With the mismanagement of affairs by the selectpeople and “manager” Roy, we are looking at a huge increase. The apathy that appears so often in this town plays right into their plans. Need to just vote no on wasteful spending. The overrated school district needs to tighten it’s belt.

  • jbacus

    The Town of North Yarmouth should send out two tax bills, one for municipal taxes and one for school taxes. I suspect residents would start paying more attention to MSAD 51’s out-of-control budgets.