RUMFORD – The SAD 43 board adopted a $14.3 million proposed operating budget for school year 2006-07 at a special meeting Wednesday night.

Directors also decided not to change the administrative structure of the district’s two elementary schools.

Superintendent Jim Hodgkin said Thursday morning that although the adopted budget is 2.6 percent higher than last year’s figure of just under $14 million, school tax assessments in all four member towns will decline.

Additional state aid to education accounts for the lower assessment costs, he said.

A public hearing on the proposed budget has tentatively been set for June 6, to be followed by a town meeting-style vote on June 8. The figure determined by those attending the vote will then be validated or rejected during the statewide primary referendum on June 13.

During the budget deliberation process, the board had made a number of additional cuts, but upon reconsideration, decided to restore $20,000 for fuel costs, additional funds for dental insurance, and the positions of assistant boys lacrosse coach and an educational technician for the gifted and talented program.

Hodgkin had said at the beginning of the budget development process that his goal was to reduce assessments for each of the four towns.

“Budgets are getting tighter and tighter, but I’m very pleased with this budget,” he said.

Two full-time-equivalent positions were eliminated, but no employees were cut from the staff, he said. Those losses were a part-time business teacher, and half-time social worker and a full-time speech therapist. A part-time mathematics teacher was added. Two middle school teachers were cut, but were replaced by two alternative education teachers.

The board also decided to retain principals at Meroby and Rumford elementary schools.

Discussion had been ongoing during the past few weeks to appoint one principal and one assistant principal to administer both schools in an attempt to provide greater consistency and continuity between the two schools.

Hodgkin said a K-5 staff survey that netted 69 responses revealed a strong preference for maintaining the existing level of administration.

“We concluded that it was not a good idea. The staff said the potential positive side didn’t outweigh the negatives,” he said.

Steps will be worked out to bring the two schools together to provide a continuity of resources, he said.