RSU 16 board decides on another hearing

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MECHANIC FALLS — Several residents criticized a budget proposal for RSU 16 Monday night, prompting the school board to schedule another hearing.

The School Committee for the Mechanic Falls, Minot and Poland regional school unit took no action on the revised proposed budget.

The proposal is $300,000 lower than the $18.1 million budget that Mechanic Falls, Minot and Poland residents rejected at a May 11 referendum.

 Several area residents criticized Superintendent Dennis Duquette’s reduced budget for not going far enough.

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 “Even with the $300,000 in cuts, this is still a $703,000 increase,” Poland Selectman Steve Robinson pointed out.

 Duquette’s proposal includes a recommendation to cut in half the $250,000 being proposed to support salary increases and a number of other measures that stop shy of cutting programs or personnel.

 He noted, however, that if the cuts were deeper, staff and programs would go.

 Reluctant to go forward with a budget that might be rejected by voters, the  committee agreed to hold an additional public hearing at Poland Regional High School, televised to reach more residents, before proceeding to another district budget meeting.

 The School Committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, June 6, to hear from residents and vote on a budget.

If the board gives it the OK, it would then go to a town meeting-style district budget meeting on Thursday, June 9.

The results of the district budget meeting would then go to a second referendum ballot on June 14.

In other business the school committee voted to relocate the district’s adult education program to the Elm Street School.

Earlier this spring, the board had voted to move the Adult Education program to the former Head Start building at the Mechanic Falls municipal complex.

The board cited financial considerations as the reason.

The cost for immediate renovations to the Head Start building were estimated at $46,000 as compared with about $27,000 to make over the lower grades 4 – 6 wing at the Elm Street School.

The roof and heating system in the Head Start building were identified as needing repairs in the near future.

The committee did not want to be dropping money year after year into a building it did not own.

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