SAD 51 task force proposes new use for Drowne Road School in Cumberland

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CUMBERLAND – Among recommendations the School Administrative District 51 Sustainability Task Force will bring to the School Board is transferring Drowne Road School students to another school and using the building for other purposes.

The task force, which includes board members, administrators, town government representatives, teachers, students and community members, has been developing recommendations to optimize the district’s assets, costs and student achievement.

The first of the group’s four recommendations is to reconfigure grades to reduce transitions between schools and make the most of facilities. The panel suggests moving Drowne Road’s third-graders to Mabel I. Wilson School (which now has kindergarten through second grade) and seeking proposals for possible uses of Drowne Road that are self-sustaining and consistent with the district’s mission.

“To close the school is a very formal process; we’re not recommending that we close it,” Susan Campbell, chairwoman of the task force and a School Board member, said last week. “… We can repurpose … a facility for other educational purposes.”

She added that “we want to retain all assets; that’s important.”

This recommendation also includes exploration of new uses for the central office building, as well as an evaluation of grade configuration alternatives the task force has identified and development of an implementation plan.

Another recommendation is to commission an architectural and engineering study for North Yarmouth Memorial School, which houses grades four and five.

“We know that facility … has some structural and some systems issues,” Campbell said. “This (study) will give us a better sense for what those are, and also provide us with an opportunity to have a larger conversation between our two communities about North Yarmouth Memorial School. Do we look at trying to get on the (state) list for building a new school? … There are lots of discussions that we have to have.”

The task force calls for the School Board to direct Superintendent Robert Hasson to commission a study for completion by July 1, and for the study to be considered by the School Board and incorporated into planning for district facilities.

The task force also recommends that a community action group be created to look at current district and community assets and find ways to make better and greater use of those facilities.

The group’s fourth recommendation is for exploration of new consolidation and collaboration options with other districts, communities and private entities. The intent would be to add value to the district while reaping cost-savings.

Campbell said the public will have an opportunity to offer input on the task force’s recommendations, which will be presented to the School Board on Monday, April 5.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or

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.