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Cape Elizabeth voters reject $115.9 million plan for new schools

The Cape Elizabeth School Board and Town Council both recommended the November 2022 school construction question be approved, according to the town's ballot.
Credit: cebuildingproject.com
A project to build new elementary and middle schools and renovate the high school in Cape Elizabeth could cost up to $115.9 million, if approved by November 2022 voters.

CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine — Voters in Cape Elizabeth have rejected a $115.9 project to build new elementary and middle schools and renovate the town's high school. 

According to the town's ballot, both the school board and town council recommended the question be passed. On Tuesday, however, voters rejected the project by a vote of 3,817 to 2,337.

This school building project was sent to the November referendum in the summer. On August 22, the town council voted 4-3 to authorize the expenditure of up to $115,943,324 to design, construct, and equip a new elementary school and middle school and renovate the high school. The council voted 6-1 in favor of a November 8 referendum question to leave the decision in the hands of voters. 

Additionally, the council voted 6-1 to authorize expenditures of up to $5 million in the form of gifts and grants to pay for additional auditorium seating, solar panels, and other improvements for the new schools. 

A public hearing was held for two hours before that vote, and about forty citizens spoke. More than half of those residents asked the council not to authorize the expenditure, saying they were concerned about tax increases. They also suggested that a phased approach be used. 

Those who spoke in favor of the project said they don't think the current school buildings are adequate spaces for proper learning. Councilor Nichole Boucher said the council received dozens of emails from community members about the issue. She said 110 people supported sending the school expenditures to a vote, and 29 were against. Four people who emailed did not have an opinion yet. 

The Portland Press Herald reported the plan would raise taxes by 25 percent. The paper also reported the student population "has fallen steadily" over the last 10 years, from 1,647 in 2013 to 1,485 in 2022. 

You can view plans for the building project here

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