SAD 51 sends $28M budget to Cumberland, North Yarmouth voters

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CUMBERLAND — The School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors on Monday unanimously approved a $28 million budget for fiscal 2011.

Residents of Cumberland and North Yarmouth will have the opportunity to accept or reject the budget in a district meeting on June 3, followed by a budget validation referendum on June 8.

Superintendent of Schools Robert Hasson said next year’s budget – which would remain flat for the third year in a row – includes more than 19 job cuts cuts.

A revenue loss of $1.25 million includes an approximately $750,000 cut in state subsidy.

The tax assessment to Cumberland would increase more than $900,000, to $11.8 million, reflecting an addition of 70 cents, or 4.8 percent, per $1,000 of property valuation. North Yarmouth would see a more than $350,000 hike, to $4.7 million, which would add 64 cents to the tax rate for an approximately 5 percent increase.

Next year’s budget saves more than $121,000 by moving third-graders from the Drowne Road School to the Mabel I. Wilson School, Hasson said. The district’s Sustainability Task Force recommended the change, as well as seeking proposals for possible uses of the school that will be self-sustaining and consistent with the district’s mission.

The Wilson school currently houses kindergarten through second grade. Job cuts will include a library educational technician, secretary, custodian and social worker.

The budget has drawn mixed reactions from the public. At a public hearing last month, North Yarmouth Selectman Mark Verrill noted that taxpayers, teachers and students have made sacrifices, and he called for a 3 percent cut in administrative salaries if no administrative jobs could be cut.

During that same meeting, Brett Wickard of Cumberland stated that cuts should be made where feasible, but that the current levels in programs and teaching should be maintained.

Hasson expressed sadness and disappointment when introducing the budget in March, saying he wished it did not have to affect so many people’s lives.

On Tuesday he said he is “confident that we’ll be able to continue to provide a good education and move forward.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or [email protected].

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.