Cumberland-North Yarmouth school budget, Wescustogo rebuilding go to polls

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 0

CUMBERLAND — The proposed $37.3 million budget for School Administrative District 51 goes to referendum vote in Cumberland and North Yarmouth June 12.

North Yarmouth voters will also decide whether to rebuild Wescustogo Hall and renovate a pared-down North Yarmouth Memorial School.

Voting takes place June 12 from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. at the former North Yarmouth Memorial School, 120 Memorial Highway, and at Cumberland Town Hall, 290 Tuttle Road.

The school budget received initial public approval at a district budget meeting May 17.

Offsetting spending is a projected $11.3 million in revenue, down 5.5 percent ($664,000) from the current year. The decline is due largely to a $442,000 loss in state subsidy ($11.3 million down to $10.9 million), which, in the last three years, has declined by more than $1 million, Superintendent Jeff Porter has said.

Of the 3.8 percent increase, 2.7 percent comprises fixed costs needed to open district doors with all personnel and programs still in place. The other 1.1 percent represents about $392,000 in strategic priorities, while another $537,000 of such priorities went unfunded, according to budget information presented at the meeting.

The original budget increase, as rolled out in March, was 4.65 percent. But a $450,000 savings in projected employee health insurance costs, along with another $75,000 in savings due to recently announced retirements and salary line adjustments, helped shave that hike.

That savings led Porter to propose reinstating three positions that were scheduled to be cut: a teacher at both Greely middle and high schools ($62,600 each), and an elementary-level educational technician ($35,000), which added $160,000 back to the budget. He also proposes adding a new kindergarten teacher at the Mabel I. Wilson School ($62,500), because about 20 more students registered over last year.

A second-grade teacher at the Mabel I. Wilson School ($68,000), also to address growing class sizes, has already been in the proposed budget.

Wescustogo Hall

Fire destroyed the original Route 115 Grange in 2013. Parking limitations at the site, which neighbors the Village Green, largely prompted town officials to eye the former NYMS property on Memorial Highway (Route 9) as a new location. 

Barrett Made, a Portland-based design and build company, has worked with the Wescustogo Building and Design Committee to develop a community center composed of a partly-demolished NYMS, retaining the gym, stage, kitchen and hallway areas. A new Wescustogo would be viewable from the corner of Memorial Highway and Parsonage Road, and connected through a lobby.

A 3D tour of the exterior and interior of the complex is posted at https://bit.ly/2v2ovW8.

A multi-use facility, the new Wescustogo would mix athletic and community events for all ages, along with town-sponsored activities, all to take place simultaneously in multiple sections of the 17,000-square-foot building, according to Wescustogo Committee Chairman Brian Sites.

The total project cost of $3.67 million would be offset by nearly $431,000 in insurance funds remaining from the original Wescustogo Hall. A 7 percent additional contingency of about $224,000 is included in the bond amount.

The project also has a fundraising goal of $250,000.

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

0
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.