The proposed flat budget in SAD 51, which will ultimately result in tax increases for residents of the two towns, cannot be cut any further. The tax increase shouldered by North Yarmouth and Cumberland residents is not providing improvements in facilities, it is not expanding or improving programs and it is not improving any element of education. We are slowing chipping away at programs and support efforts that have been in place over a number of years. Many teachers already do amazing work with dwindling means and time. Do we really want them to have larger classes, fewer counselors and support staff? Rather than slowly dismantling a school system that excels, we should commit, at the very least, to maintaining the status quo.
Revenue is the true issue. Perhaps that is where the real effort should be placed. What are the towns doing to encourage a wider tax base? Do we need to re-examine our building cap policy? Does our town welcome businesses? The most current Comprehensive Plan for North Yarmouth envisions a village center by the year 2020 that “provides shopping convenience for residents, maybe a pharmacy, a service station, a small grocery store, hardware store, doctors and other professional offices. … There may also be small housing complexes, perhaps condominiums for seniors, and maybe an assisted living facility.” Where are we in the process of realizing this vision?
Many have suggested it is time to think outside the box; perhaps “outside of the box” means “outside of the school house.”