Mountain Valley school district learns of possible state aid boost

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DIXFIELD — Superintendent Tom Ward and the RSU 10 board kicked off the 2012-13 budget development process Monday with news of a possible increase in state aid.

Ward explained that valuations in the 12 district towns have remained essentially flat, unlike last year when the overall values increased by $45 million. With more value, state aid had dropped $500,000.

This year, he expects state aid to rise about $277,000.

However, the district has about $1.5 million in built-in increases for such things as contracted salary raises and higher fuel and energy costs.

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Whether MaineCare will reimburse the district the hundreds of thousands of dollars it owes will also make a difference in the amount of money that must be raised, he said.

The board will look at every program and position for possible reductions, he said, and at the ratio of teachers and educational technicians to the number of students.

So far, six staff members have taken advantage of a retirement incentive meant to reduce costs.

“We will do the best we can,” Ward said.

Selectmen and residents from several towns attended Monday’s board meeting to hear the budget introduction.

“We want them all to come to future meetings so they can see the budget process firsthand,” Ward said.

Whether the local share of education expenses goes up or down for towns won’t be known until later, although he said he expects some increase for many.

Ward said he had asked each administrator to bring in requests no higher than this year’s budget. The seven elementary and middle school principals made their presentations Monday.

A second prekindergarten program is being proposed in the Mountain Valley region. Prekindergarten programs in Dirigo Elementary School and Hartford-Sumner Elementary School each serve 30 students.

Meroby Elementary School in Mexico serves 30 students from Meroby and Rumford Elementary School. Ward wants to see a second 30-student prekindergarten program in that area.

Once the proposed budget impact on the towns is known, Ward will make presentations to each Board of Selectmen prior to a vote.

The budget for 2011-12 was $34.1 million. Ward expects that figure to increase.

The next budget development session is set for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at Dirigo Elementary School in Peru. At that meeting, the principals from each of the three high schools, and the curriculum coordinator will present their proposed budgets.

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