Meeting set to act on budget

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RUMFORD – The SAD 43 board may have cut a bit too much from a proposed 2006-07 operating budget during a special meeting last week.

At least that’s the possibility that came through at Monday’s board meeting. To try to come up with a final figure, Superintendent Jim Hodgkin set a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 12, to try to adopt a figure that will go before voters in June.

The numbers stand at $14,290,391, just over a 2 percent increase from last year’s $14 million budget.

The most recent cuts included what Hodgkin believes is too much for heating fuel, particularly in light of the escalating oil costs, as well as a third gifted and talented program teacher and the elimination of assistant coaches for the girls and boys freshman basketball and lacrosse teams.

Hodgkin suggested a compromise for the gifted and talented teacher: hiring an educational technician instead to work with students and the district’s two gifted and talented teachers.

“We have room to add in some things,” he said.

During the beginning of the budget development process, Hodgkin said he wanted a budget that would reduce school taxes for all four district towns. Even with the addition of thousands of more dollars, he said each town would receive a decrease ranging from about 2.5 percent for Byron, to 15.64 percent for Mexico. Rumford residents would see a 15.55 decrease and Roxbury, a 9.31 decrease, largely due to more state funding for education.

He said district towns would receive similar decreases if the state Legislature passes a law mandating that all teachers be paid a minimum of $30,000 annually because the state would kick in most of the increase as a result of the minimum salary.

In other matters, discussion continued on a proposal to restructure the system of one principal for each of the two district elementary schools, to one principal for both who would have an assistant principal to help with administration.

Hodgkin said surveys have gone out to staff members in Meroby and Rumford elementary schools asking for their opinions. The data from that survey should be compiled prior to the April 12 meeting.

The possible move is not to save money, he said, but to attempt to provide similar methodologies and services in both buildings.

Longtime Meroby teacher Liz Coffin suggested that before the board changes the administrative structure, they take a look at trying to fix it.

Meroby guidance counselor David Walton also suggested that the board give the two schools a chance to work through whatever differences exist for a year.

“Then if this doesn’t work, look at restructuring,” he said.

Hodgkin said there is no specific time frame set for restructuring.

Also on Monday, Hodgkin announced a retirement gathering for five longtime teachers who will leave the district at the end of the school year. The five have served a total of more than 150 years in the classroom. The gathering will take place April 28 at Black Mountain.

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