DIXFIELD – SAD 21 directors approved a proposed $6.77 million budget for 2003-04 at a special meeting Monday.

The new budget represents a 4.79 percent increase over last year, or a 1.3 mill increase in each town, Superintendent David Pierce said.

If voters approve the budget, town shares of the total $1.97 million to be raised locally, include Dixfield at $1.29 million, Canton at $477,038 and Carthage at $196,912.

This includes $1.48 million in foundation and debt service with the state, $35,186 in debt service without the state, and $449,869 as additional local monies.

Originally, the proposed budget came in at an 11.8-percent increase over last year, but the board pared it down to the 4.79 percent. This was made possible by an insurance rate reduction from 15 to 8 percent, Pierce said.

As a result, the board was able to add some teaching positions back into the budget, positions that had been pared initially.

These include a Dirigo High School instructor, a middle school teacher and, due to a new special needs kindergarten student coming into the district, a special education technician.

The board also voted unanimously to include a separate article on the referendum warrant asking voters to raise $40,000 toward a parking lot at the high school.

By an 8-2 vote, the board additionally agreed to add a three-year amortized loan for $14,000 to the budget for a much-needed air treatment system in the office area at the high school.

In other business, the board accepted the resignation of Pierce, who is retiring, and chose to elect Thomas J. Ward as the district’s new superintendent, although directors had already hired Ward.

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