RUMFORD – By the narrowest of margins, the SAD 43 board did not reinstate junior varsity coaches for the spring sports season.

In a weighted vote, board members decided 456-452 to retain the budget that was passed last year that had eliminated $20,000 for most assistant and junior varsity coaches.

Voting to restore the $5,500 that would have put coaches into place for junior varsity baseball, junior varsity softball and assistant track coaches were Rumford representatives Arthur Boivin, Rosie Bradley, Chris Dickson and Linda Westleigh, and Mexico board member Peter Zanoni.

Voting to stick to the budget as adopted by residents last July were Rumford representatives Mary Hickey and David McKivergan, Mexico board members Betty Barrett, Courtney Prentiss and Faye Prentiss, Roxbury representative Mark Touchette and Byron board member Anne Simmons Edmunds. Rumford representative Tracey Higley was absent.

The original budget presented by the board to voters last June was voted down. The board then made about $172,000 in cuts, including funding for most junior varsity and assistant coaching positions that were passed in July.

Westleigh, in voting to reinstate the funding, said she didn’t believe students should be punished by not having the opportunity when the district did have the funds.

However, Touchette, who said he believes in offering a strong sports program, said voters had made their decisions last year. If some of the junior varsity programs were reinstated, he said perhaps some of the other items that were cut should have been restored as well.

Resident Eddie Paterson argued that eliminating funding for junior varsity sports, “would be detrimental to sports programs. It would deplete the varsity sports programs and cause the school to be noncompetitive in the future,” he said.

Barrett said she sees the need for sports. “But things are going to get tough. We spend a half-million dollars on extra-curricular activities. We’re one of the few in the state not to charge (for sports programs),” she said.

Following two separate 30-minute closed door sessions, the board also overwhelmingly expelled two high school students until evidence is shown that the behavior that caused the expulsions will not happen again. No other details were provided for the expulsions.

Assistant Principal Matt Gilbert said high school expulsions, at four or five this school year, are down from nearly 10 last year.

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