$2.7 million cut from RSU 10 school budget

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DIXFIELD — The Regional School Unit 10 Board of Directors on Monday approved cutting $2.7 million from the proposed 2011-12 budget to keep it at this year’s level.

Board members Tracey Higley of Rumford, Judy Boucher of Byron and Betty Barrett of Mexico voted against the budget.

Because of the board’s action, 13 positions will be eliminated, some positions will remain vacant and staff will assume additional duties. Teachers may be taking three unpaid furlough days.

Although the proposed budget is at this year’s amount of $34.2 million, school assessments in virtually every one of the 12 member towns will increase, largely because of increases in state valuation, Superintendent Tom Ward said.

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Of the 13 position eliminated, seven will involve laying off personnel. Retirements and leaving positions vacant will make up the rest.

Among the losses were the elimination of the middle school alternative education program, out-of-district placement for several students, about $45,000 in miscellaneous athletics expenses, the district tutor, a physical education teacher at Mountain Valley Middle School and several educational technician positions.

Others were the Mountain Valley High School Athletic director, several  special education coordinators who receive stipends, a full-time special education evaluator, technology equipment, fewer workshop days and subsequently, fewer costs for substitutes, and a myriad of other cuts that often reduce full-time positions to part time.

The cuts mean that many staff members will assume more duties.

Ward said the educational association will decide early next week whether to agree to three -unpaid furlough days. If approved, the furlough days would take the place of workshop days and not affect student days.

In an effort to further reduce the number of employees who could lose their jobs, Ward suggested, and the board agreed, to keep the deadline open for teachers to retire without taking away their retirement stipends.

As the proposed budget stands now, all RSU 10 member towns, except Roxbury and Hanover, would see a tax increase. For homes valued at $100,000, the increases range from a low of $17.78 for Rumford taxpayers to a high of $122.76 for property owners in the town of Dixfield.

The RSU 10 board is expected to take one more look at a proposed budget at their May 23 meeting.

Residents will then be able to attend public hearings in each of the regions on June 6, 7 and 8. The districtwide meeting vote takes place June 9, followed by a referendum validation vote June 14.

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