DIXFIELD — A sprinkling of Dirigo region residents learned at Wednesday’s public hearing on the Western Foothills Regional Unit 10 budget hearing that last minute federal Title I funds has enabled the district to retain seven educational technicians originally scheduled to lose their jobs.
That was but one part of the presentation made by Superintendent Tom Ward for the proposed $33,415,834 budget.
Ward had said as recently as last week that nearly 20 positions would be lost, including the seven educational technicians, in an effort to reduce a budget that had to absorb state aid cuts.
He learned on Wednesday that Title I money has been made available to sustain the positions for another year. Ten teaching positions have been eliminated.
Despite a proposed budget that is far less than the current year’s, the towns of the Dirigo region, which had made up the former SAD 21, will experience slight increases in their shares of the budget.
For Canton, that will be $15,256; for Carthage, $13,041; for Dixfield, $10,867 and for Peru, $20,092. These figures apply after the carryover money from the former SAD 21 has been used for this year.
Ward said the merger of the former SAD 21, SAD 43 and SAD 39 has already resulted in about $800,000 in savings from what the costs would have been if all three operated separately.
He said the proposed budget had to find ways to trim nearly $1.8 million while still retaining the educational programs because of higher valuations.
“We’ve made some massive reductions,” he said. “This is two years in a row that we’ve come in without a budget increase.”
He said some maintenance costs were eliminated, while others were retained. The district is responsible for the upkeep of 11 buildings.
“We concentrated on roofs and water infiltration,” he said.
Resident Dan McKay asked Ward to consider taxpayers, while an unidentified woman said that although she realized that the administration and school board had worked hard on the budget, it was still too high.
“There must be places to reduce that doesn’t hurt the kids,” she said. “There’s got to be a place somewhere.”
Ward also said that the student population has dropped by just over 100 from last year, to 2,890. McKay questioned the cost per pupil.
Ward said that number is just under $10,000, a figure he said was in line with virtually all schools in the state.
Mountain Valley region residents will have a chance to hear a presentation on the proposed budget at 6 p.m., Thursday, at the Mexico Town Hall. Buckfield residents had their opportunity Tuesday night.
Residents of all towns in the district will vote on the proposed budget at 6 p.m., June 3, at Dirigo High School. A validation of the figure that is determined on June 3 will take place at referendum on June 8 at each member town’s polling place.