SANFORD (AP) – A proposed $650 million casino would bring more than 2,000 new students to schools in Sanford and surrounding communities, according to the Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission.

The commission met with regional school officials Monday.

J.T. Lockman, the commission’s planning director, told school officials that planning for the casino is important regardless of whether the proposal passes on Nov. 4 because the tribes may come back with another proposal.

Lockman said exact school costs and enrollment projections are difficult to predict because it is unclear who will fill the estimated 4,800 jobs the casino would create.

Whether the employees move to the state from elsewhere or whether they commute to Sanford from Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts would create different impacts, he said.

Mainers tend to be willing to commute long distances rather than move to the towns where they work, which would leave less of an impact on housing and schools in Sanford.

Kennebunk School Superintendent Tom Farrell said non-English speaking employees could affect area schools. His former district in Colorado saw its English as a Second Language staff grow from one to eight in 15 years when immigrants began to move to the area for economic opportunities, he said.

“It created havoc for the school budget,” he said.

The casino would probably impact the day care system, since the casino would operate around the clock, he said.

The commission estimated that by 2007 enrollments would increase in York County’s school districts by amounts varying from 23 to 314 students. Waterboro and Sanford would experience the biggest enrollment spikes, the commission reported.

The enrollment projections were calculated in part by assuming that each new dwelling unit would produce 0.9 school children and where the new dwelling units were likely to be built.

Facebook comments