BUCKFIELD — Twenty residents of Western Foothills Regional School Unit 10 met in the Buckfield Town Office with school officials to discuss the proposed 2010-11 school budget Tuesday night.
RSU 10 Superintendent Tom Ward, assisted by Business Manager Mary Dailey and School Board Chairman Jerry Wiley, explained the proposed budget of $33,415,834 and answered questions.
Ward explained that the proposal cuts positions, delays maintenance and postpones purchases in order to have no increase over the 2009-10 Budget.
There will be a budget validation meeting at Dirigo High School at 6 p.m. on June 3. At this meeting residents can change the budget. There will be a budget validation referendum vote on June 8 at each town’s polling place.
If the proposed budget remains unchanged at the June 3 meeting, and is approved by voters on June 8, the former SAD 39 towns of Buckfield, Hartford and Sumner will see significant reductions in their school bills. This is due to part of it being paid with surplus funds SAD 39 had on hand when it merged into the RSU and partly from changes in the state valuation of the RSU 10 towns. Buckfield will raise $1,087,634, a reduction of $38,292; Hartford will raise $998,945, a reduction of $31,372; and Sumner will raise $577,175, a reduction of $36,672.
The RSU expects $500,000 less from the state next year and will not receive the $800,000 one time Title 1 money that was part of the federal stimulus package.
Sumner resident George Jones, who had extensive experience with school transportation before retiring to the area, suggested strategies that might reduce transportation cost. Ward asked Jones if he would meet with school officials to review the transportation plans.
The referendum ballot will have two questions. One is to approve or reject the budget as amended at the June 3 meeting. The other asks voters if they want to abandon the referendum on the school budget and accept or reject it at the budget validation meeting.
Ward said, “I welcome the referendum process.” He went on to say that he frequently heard complaints of school personnel packing the meetings when budgets were voted on at meetings rather than by referendum.
As the meeting was breaking up, school board member John Philips of Sumner shared what he called “Philip’s Position.” He said, “Get the state and federal government out of education and you will find it a lot cheaper and a lot better for the students.”
Several residents voiced their approval of his “position.” Philips went on to say that the schools are faced with too many mandates that are expensive and ineffective.