Update from the Superintendent - October 12, 2023

his the last segment in a four-part series around the district's 2023-24 Strategic Priorities. This week's focus is Early Childhood Education, one of the four priority areas of the Strategic Plan.  
Per the Short-term Facilities Plan, we have completed Phase I's focus on Mabel I. Wilson's modular reconfiguration, additions, and playground replacement in an effort to reclaim programming space and redress long-standing issues. In all of the discussions and meetings I have had since we began talking about building a new school back in 2018, few people have disputed the need for additional learning space. After all, the school first exceeded its 550-student capacity limit in 2015, eight years ago. The school's current enrollment is now up over 200 students since then and is expected to peak in 2028 with 822 students. During the summer of 2023, modular classroom reconfiguration and site work allowed us to place 22 modular classrooms behind the main building in two cluster units.
Phase II begins during the summer of 2024 when enrollment shifts at GMS necessitate replacing 7 modular classrooms with a 12-room unit in order to reclaim programming space and prepare for rapid enrollment increases in grades 4-8 over the next several years. With a current enrollment now exceeding 800 students at GMS, there will be more than 1,000 students in the school by the start of the 2028-29 year. Phase III of the plan is tentatively planned for the summer of 2026 with an additional 12-room modular unit to be needed at that time.
More discussions about finding a long-term solution to the district's rapidly expanding enrollment will take place on October 25 at a joint meeting of the MSAD 51 Board of Directors, North Yarmouth Select Board, and Cumberland Town Council. In the meantime, the Board has convened a new Community Engagement Committee to help inform the community about current and future conditions and plans related to this strategic priority.