DIXFIELD — The RSU 10 board on Monday night decided to increase the daily rate for substitute nurses, hire a new eighth-grade teacher, and purchase two new buses.
Superintendent Tom Ward said 12 new eighth-grade students were registered at Mountain Valley Middle School in Mexico at the beginning of the new school year, most from out-of-state. He said the district had reduced the number of eighth-grade teachers because the number had shrunk by the end of the last school year.
However, with an average of 27 students per class, the decision was made to bring in another teacher. Ward said for now, a long-term substitute will be hired, but he wants a permanent teacher in as soon as possible. the middle school has an enrollment of 314 sixth- through eighth-graders, with 124 eighth-graders.
He said funds for the position will come from a lower than budgeted workers' compensation account.
The board is also keeping a close watch on the student numbers at Hartford-Sumner Elementary School that now has a total enrollment of 326. Increasing the most are the second grades that have 24 and 22 students.
Also on Monday, special services director Clarissa Errington said the low substitute pay for nurses is making it very difficult to get a qualified person into the district when needed.
“We have kids with high medical needs,” she said. “Substitute nurses aren't needed a huge amount of time, but some have come in while sick, or other nurses in the district have covered, which becomes a snowball effect.
A survey of nurse substitute rates shows a range from $90 a day to $125. A majority of the board decided to offer $100 a day.
The board also authorized the purchase of two 77-passenger buses at a total cost of $161,000. The interest rate came in at 1.79 percent. Ward said the state reimburses the district for most of the cost.
New staff hired are: Evan Fellman, originally from the Farmington area, as MVMS music teacher; Craig Milledge, who had previously taught at Thornton Academy, as an eighth-grade social studies teacher at MVMS; and Janet Wicks, who had previously taught in RSU 9, as a business teacher at Buckfield Junior-Senior High School. Wicks' salary is paid by Region 11 School of Applied Technology.