Mt. Blue board learns of decreasing state aid to schools

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FARMINGTON — Just as the proposed $22.1 million budget for the Mt. Blue Regional School District for 2010-11 goes before voters next week with its cuts and job reductions, the school board learned Tuesday that next year will be just as painful.

“We are facing another dilemma,” Superintendent Michael Cormier told the board and community members at a budget information session Tuesday. “I just learned we will be losing another $1 million (in state aid) next year.”

“There is no way the taxpayers can absorb these losses. There are families that have lost jobs and are really struggling and we recognize that,” he said.

Only a handful attended the meeting and of those, most were district employees. At 7 p.m. on May 11  in the Mt. Blue High School gym, district residents will vote on the line item amounts and the total budget. On May 18, a state-mandated referendum validation vote will be held in each town with a single question ballot with a yes or no response.

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The nine towns in the district are Chesterville, Farmington, Industry, New Sharon, New Vineyard, Temple, Vienna, Weld and Wilton.

Eleven teaching positions are proposed to be eliminated or reduced in the proposed budget, with some of those jobs reflecting positions that will be vacated due to retirements that will not be filled. After negotiating with the teachers’ union on Monday, school officials agreed to eight teachers being displaced to other instructional jobs according to their seniority.

The board also voted to notify two teachers that their positions are being reduced. As of Aug. 31, Kelly Sabin, the half-time drafting teacher at Foster Technology Center and Matthew Guistra, an elementary foreign language teacher, will be laid off.

Cuts will be made in programs, supplies, textbooks, transportation, facilities, support staff and administration. The budget also contains no funds for increases in salaries or wages for any employee. The proposed budget reflects a decrease of about 6.5 percent over the adopted 2009-10 budget, largely due to the loss of $1.6 million in projected revenue from the state. The proposed increase to the municipalities is $184,240.

In other business, a graduating senior, Alyssa Chretien of Farmington, was selected as the district’s 2010 Career and Technical Education Student of the Year at the Maine Administrators of Career and Technical Education annual ceremony in Lewiston last weekend. She was presented with a plaque, a $50 gift card and a certificate by now-former Commissioner of Education Susan Gendron and U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud, D-Maine.

According to Glenn Kapiloff, the director of the Foster Technology Center, Chretien was enrolled in the business education program and plans to attend Rochester Institute of Technology in the field of biomedical sciences in the fall.

According to school officials, Chretien, a member of the National Honor Society; maintains the Mt. Blue High School website; designed and created a website for the Sandy River Recycling Association; is a member of the Ecology Club; and on her own, volunteers weekly to collect all the recyclable paper for the high school classrooms.

 bjespersen@beeline-online.net

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