CUMBERLAND — A committee charged with looking into reapportioning the membership of the School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors voted 4-2 Monday in favor of adding an additional Cumberland representative.
Population change prompted the eight-member SAD 51 Board of Directors to consider the action, Superintendent of Schools Robert Hasson said. The Cumberland-North Yarmouth board voted 7-0 last month to ask the Maine Commissioner of Education Stephen Bowen to determine if the board is apportioned according to the principle of one person, one vote.
Bowen replied Feb. 19 that the board is not apportioned “in accordance with the principles of one-man, one-vote.”
The Cumberland Town Council also called for a look into the matter. State Rep. Stephen Moriarty, council chairman at the time, explained to Hasson in a letter last December that Cumberland’s population in the 2010 census had grown to 7,211, nearly 67 percent of the district’s total population; North Yarmouth’s population was 3,565.
The School Board now has five members from Cumberland and three from North Yarmouth. Adding a sixth Cumberland representative would increase the town’s representation to nearly 67 percent, matching its share of the SAD 51 population.
The reapportionment committee, which met for the only time on Monday, was composed of members from both communities: Cumberland Councilor Tom Gruber, North Yarmouth Selectman Paul Napolitano, Jim Moulton of North Yarmouth and Jim Bailinson of Cumberland as SAD 51 representatives, and Karen Campbell of Cumberland and Steve Gorden of North Yarmouth as representatives from their respective communities.
Gruber, Moulton, Bailinson and Campbell favored adding a Cumberland member to the School Board to solve the apportionment issue. Napolitano and Gorden voted against the proposal.
Later that day, Gorden said he had favored reducing the board by two members, one from each town, in order to strike the balance.
“If you do research, you’ll find that the most optimal size for a committee to do work is around seven,” Gorden said, pointing out that along with its current compliment of eight, the board also has two non-voting student members.
“It wasn’t that I was against a Cumberland representative,” he said. “It was just a board size issue.”
The committee’s recommendation now goes to Bowen for action. The new Cumberland member would be elected in June, as part of the regular School Board election.