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SAD 51 board transfers North Yarmouth school to town

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SAD 51 board transfers North Yarmouth school to town

CUMBERLAND — The School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors voted 7-1 Monday, with one abstention, to transfer North Yarmouth Memorial School to the town after the school closes next June.

The district will turn the property over to North Yarmouth by June 30, 2014, the end of its current fiscal year.

Steve Palmer, chairman of the North Yarmouth Board of Selectmen, said Monday that the panel could vote Tuesday, Dec. 17, to accept the school.

The School Board voted in December 2012 to close the 37-year-old building. A Cumberland-North Yarmouth referendum in June affirmed that decision.

Cumberland voted 559-237 to close the school, while North Yarmouth voted 302-268 against doing so. The school's fourth and fifth grades will move to an expanded Greely Middle School in Cumberland.

Board member Robert Vail, who cast the dissenting School Board vote a year ago against closing NYMS, also opposed the transfer at Monday's meeting. He said he would have favored "an agreement of some sort, (or) at the very least a conversation with the town of North Yarmouth to extend an opportunity for us to retain some rights for a future school."

He added that "we're not leaving ourselves in a good position by just passing this back to the town."

John Simpson, the board member who abstained from voting, said he was unsure he had enough information on the matter to vote either way.

Board member Jim Moulton, a North Yarmouth resident, said "my town maybe ought to be doing a little more planning as to what to do with that school, and I hope they will."

He pointed out that with the Aug. 29 destruction by fire of Wescustogo Hall, a key North Yarmouth event venue, "there's a lot in play over there right now, but I would not assume that the school (district) would not have use of the gymnasium."

The North Yarmouth Economic Development and Sustainability Committee plans to bring a several-pronged proposal for the town center to the Board of Selectmen on Dec. 17.

The group has reworked its plan since the Wescustogo fire, and committee member David Perkins has said one recommendation is to "move aggressively with privatizing (the school) once we own it, and to look for the best developer possible to work with that."

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