CUMBERLAND — After seven years on Mackworth Island in Falmouth, the Friends School of Portland is planning to move a few miles north.
The Quaker school, which serves about 85 pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students, has purchased 21 acres of property at 11 U.S. Route 1 in Cumberland, near the Falmouth town line.
The school has been leasing space from the Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and could be in its new location for the 2014-2015 school year, according to Friends Head of School Jenny Rowe.
“We have been looking (for a new site) for probably close to two years,” Rowe said last week. “… We really wanted to stay open to a lot of possibilities. And we were really lucky when Martha and Andy Soule were willing to sell us this 21 acres.”
The project went before the Planning Board in December 2012 for a sketch plan review, and the school plans to submit a site plan application this month. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection also has to approve the plan.
“We’re planning on getting into the site this spring, because we have to build an access road and we have to run utilities in,” Rowe said. “… Then we could potentially begin building in July, to be finished the following July.”
About 75 percent of the school’s students are from the Portland area, she explained. The middle school science students have come up with ideas for the new school, making maps of the land and learning about the wetlands that make up much of the wooded site, according to a school press release.
The Friends School is the only Quaker school in northern New England, Rowe said. It was a left a “very generous” bequest from one of the people who helped establish the school, and those funds helped the school buy the land.
There will be a capital campaign to raise money for the building, Rowe said.
Stephen Blatt Architects is working with Kaplan Thomas Architects and landscape design firm dL Studio “to create a compact and light-filled school to nestle into the natural surroundings carefully,” according to the school’s press release.
The project will include solar gain and air ventilation to warm and cool the building, and photovoltaic panels are expected to generate enough electricity to sell back to the grid what the school uses.