Cumberland-North Yarmouth school district projects 4.3% budget hike

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CUMBERLAND — Next year’s budget in School Administrative District 51 could increase 4.34 percent to $35.2 million.

That amount, minus anticipated revenues, would produce a proposed tax assessment on the Cumberland-North Yarmouth district of $22.8 million, up nearly $900,000 from the current fiscal year.

Cumberland’s tax rate would rise by 1.5 percent, adding 28 cents per $1,000 of valuation, or a $98 annual increase on a home valued at $350,000.

North Yarmouth’s rate would increase 1.7 percent, for an extra 30 cents on the tax rate, or $105 for a $350,000 home.

Salaries and benefits are causing most of next year’s budget increase, according to a March 21 memo from Superintendent Jeff Porter to the SAD 51 Board of Directors. They are due to rise about $580,000 and $259,000, respectively.

Health insurance could rise 6 percent. Other increases include two new teachers ($55,000 each) at Mabel I. Wilson due to an enrollment increase; replacing classroom furniture; technology investments; added support for Response to Intervention programming; a new school bus; and a maintenance truck.

Revenues include $308,000 in additional state subsidies for fiscal year 2017, along with $300,000 in unspent money received from the state after the fiscal year 2016 budget was approved.

The spending plan includes nearly $163,000 in cuts, such as a teaching position at Greely High School through attrition due to an enrollment drop there. Another $88,600 was shaved from administrative requests.

District enrollment is projected to decrease from the current 2,026 to 2,005 next year, according to Porter. But a change in enrollment at the Mabel I. Wilson elementary school between last March and this August shows a 7.4 percent projected increase, the superintendent explained in an interview last week.

According to a budget presentation given at the School Board’s March 24 meeting, SAD 51’s gross budget for 2016 was $33.8 million for 2,026 students, compared with $22 million in Yarmouth for 1,600 students, $33.2 million in Falmouth for 2,136 students, and $23.6 million in Cape Elizabeth for 1,600 students.

SAD 51 has the lowest tax-assessed cost per pupil, according to Porter and Finance Director Scott Poulin – about $10,800 – compared with $11,400 in Yarmouth, $11,500 in Falmouth, and nearly $12,800 in Cape Elizabeth.

The per-pupil cost was $215 in the 1950s, according to the presentation.

A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, April 25 at the Greely High School library. The School Board is due to adopt the spending plan Monday, May 2.

Two votes by the public follow: at a district budget meeting in the Greely High gym at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 19, and a budget validation referendum Tuesday, June 14.

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.