DIXFIELD — The board and administration of Western Foothills Regional School Unit 10 are expected to make the last of the possible proposed job cuts when they meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 26, at Dirigo High School.
During the past few weeks, Superintendent Tom Ward has proposed eliminating 10 teaching and 10 educational technician positions. During Monday’s meeting, secretarial, nutrition, custodial and bus driving positions will be reviewed for possible cutbacks.
The proposed job cuts, along with decreases in the purchase of the number of textbooks and other materials, reductions in capital projects and maintenance, is the result of $538,000 less in state aid to education and the end of federal stimulus money.
“We’re trying to come in at a zero percent increase,” Ward has said.
The current operating budget, which is the first for the merged school system, is $34.1 million.
RSU 10 includes the former SAD 21 in Dixfield, SAD 43 in Rumford and SAD 39 in Buckfield.
The district serves just under 3,000 students and currently employs about 600 professional and support staff. With anticipated job cuts, that figure could drop by 18 or 20 people.
Ward is anticipating fewer than 10 teachers will actually lose jobs because of the number of retirements that have been announced, or are expected to be known at Monday’s meeting.
At the last board meeting on April 12, a retirement incentive was introduced that has so far encouraged at least two more teachers to retire at the end of the current year, bringing the total number to about a dozen. A major factor in potential position cuts, however, is whether all specialties can be met by existing staff, or whether positions must be filled with specific certifications.
Ward has said that the teacher-pupil ratio remains relatively low, with an average of 17-1 in the elementary grades, 18-1 in the middle grades, and 15-1 in the high schools. If teaching positions are eliminated, he said the average per grade teacher-pupil ratio could go up by one or two students.
The board is expected to approve a final, proposed budget at a special May 3 meeting.
Informational meetings on the finalized budget will be held in each of the three regions in late May, then a budget validation vote will be taken on June 3. Residents of the district’s 12 towns will then vote on the budget June 8.