School Bonds approved!

The voters of Yarmouth on Tuesday, November 6 voted to approve funding for the expansion of all four Yarmouth schools and a complete renovation of our oldest facility, Yarmouth Elementary School.

In the coming days, the School Department will be submitting a Request for Proposals for design services, leading to interviews and selection of an architectural firm for these projects. The School Committee will also be commissioning a Building Committee, comprised of community members, School Committee members, and school leadership to work closely with the design and construction team to ensure that our community receives the best product at the best price. You may stay apprised of this work via periodic reports at School Committee meetings and postings to our website.

Please view this abbreviated slide show for a quick overview of the proposed projects.

Read our Frequently Asked Questions document for updated information about the proposal!

View this comprehensive slide show to learn more about the project and the impact to the taxpayer.

The voters approved the bonds as follows:

(1)To authorize up to $39,800,000 in bond financing for renovation and expansion of Yarmouth Elementary School (McCartney St.), expansion and installation of security measures at Yarmouth High School (West Elm St.), a capital roof project at Harrison Middle School (McCartney St.), and restroom upgrades at Rowe School (School St.); including design, engineering and site improvements related to all these projects, and

(2) To authorize up to $12,200,000 in additional bond financing (only if Part 1 is approved) for construction and expansion of Rowe School, Harrison Middle School, and a capital roof project at Yarmouth High School; including design, engineering and site improvements related to all these projects.

A brief history of the challenges and solutions

Since 2008, student enrollment in Yarmouth Schools has increased more than 17%, from 1,393 nine years ago to the 2017-18 student count of 1,636. Two separate studies by independent researchers indicate that this trend is not going to end soon, and by 2027 Yarmouth may see enrollment of approximately 1,970 students. This is significantly higher than the total school building capacity and requires immediate attention.

To address these concerns, the School Committee formed a Facilities Assessment Committee. After a year of working with architects and engineers from Harriman, the Facilities Assessment Committee identified six options to address the facilities needs of the district, recommending “Option 4”, which calls for:

  • An expansion at Rowe School to accommodate enrollment growth in Kindergarten and Grade 1, as well as address the likelihood that the State will be mandating that local school districts become responsible for administering programs for 3- and 4-year olds who are currently served by Child Development Services.
  • An expansion at Yarmouth Elementary School to accommodate enrollment growth, as well as a complete renovation of the existing facility to bring it up to current standards and ensure its viability for decades to come. As part of this project Grade 5 will be relocated to YES, reducing the scope of the construction project needed at the Middle School.
  • A small expansion at Harrison Middle School to account for enrollment growth, allowing for the removal of the portable classrooms that have been on-site almost from the day the school opened.
  • An expansion at Yarmouth High School to account for enrollment growth and evolving programming (e.g. robotics and STEM).

Yarmouth Elementary School is the oldest building in the district. A major renovation of the existing building will provide the upgrades needed to keep the school viable for decades to come. Enrollment growth at YES continues to be significant, requiring a large addition of classroom and core spaces. In order to avoid a similar expansion at the Middle School, it was decided to shift Grade 5 from HMS to YES as part of this project.

As illustrated below, the entire existing building (lightly shaded) would receive upgrades to all systems, while a large expansion would provide for the needed additional classrooms and core spaces. By renovating and expanding the existing school, the Committee was able to reduce the overall cost of these projects significantly (as compared to construction of a new school). Increased parking and improved security features will complete the transformation of YES into a modern facility.

Yarmouth Elementary School – First floor

The capacity of the expanded school will be 689, with a projected enrollment in 2027 of 612.

The High School is the only school in the district that does not provide a security vestibule connected to the main office for school-day entrance into the building. By relocating the main entrance to the Southeast side of the building, a more secure entrance is created. An efficient plan for enrollment growth includes removing the fitness room from the center of the plan, allowing for expansion of the cafeteria. The fitness room will be recreated next to the gymnasium. Expansion of the performing arts areas will take place next to the Performing Arts Center, and a two-story classroom addition will extend off the current academic wing on the Northeast side of the building.

Areas shaded in orange on this diagram indicate spaces that will be re-assigned or renovated for new purposes. Moving the athletic offices to new spaces next to the gymnasium will provide space in the middle of the plan for needed guidance counselors and social workers, while other spaces throughout the school will be reassigned for purposes such as special education, robotics, and regular classrooms.

The capacity of the expanded school will be slightly more than 700, with a projected 2027 enrollment of 653.

Yarmouth High School – First floor

At Rowe School, additional classroom space is needed to handle growing enrollment. By September of this year, a portable unit will be installed on the site, with a seventh kindergarten classroom moving into what is the current art room. Music classes have already been displaced from a dedicated space, moving into the library. These shared spaces do not provide students with the high-quality experience expected of our schools. Adding to this dilemma is the call for local school districts to take over programming that is currently provided by Child Development Services (CDS) of Maine. This could bring an additional 60 students to Rowe School in the next two years. This plan does not add space for public pre-k programming, which is a separate program from CDS.

To provide the spaces necessary to handle these additional students, Rowe School must grow by 7 classrooms, along with additional rooms for instructional support services and larger core spaces such as the library and cafeteria/gymnasium.

In the illustration below, the darker shaded areas represent new construction. The additional instructional spaces would extend off the main corridor of the building, pushing the school’s boundaries onto the edge of Royal River Park. The cafeteria would be expanded off the front corner of the building, closest to Route 1.

William Rowe School

The capacity of the renovated school will be 266 in Kindergarten and Grade 1 with a projected 2027 enrollment of 228. The school would also accommodate up to 64 CDS students.

The Middle School will be the least impacted facility in terms of construction. By moving Grade 5 to Yarmouth Elementary School, the projected enrollment at HMS will drop to 479 in 2027. Currently, two portable classrooms bring the capacity to 525, while approximately 540 students are enrolled. By adding a small addition of classrooms to one end of the building and relocating music classes to new, appropriately-sized spaces at the other end of the building, the facility will meet the needs of up to 525 students.

Frank Harrison Middle School – First floor