RUMFORD – SAD 43 department heads wrapped up their initial budget proposals to the school board Monday night. Now, work begins to reduce the requests to something voters will approve while still providing an education for the district’s 1,516 students.

Although no solid estimates were provided, the same story was heard over and over again – fuel oil, diesel and propane are going up, so most likely food and other items will go up as well.

Tom Sinclair, director of buildings, grounds and transportation, said he is finding it difficult to estimate the cost for transportation next school year.

“Diesel is $4.35 a gallon now,” he said.

Nutrition director Jeanne LaPointe said the school lunch program is self-supporting, but she’s unsure about costs next year.

“We have no sense where food costs are going,” she said.

Her department is working to expand the free breakfast program. If that is successful, along with more student participation in free and reduced lunches, then the school’s nutrition program could bring in more revenue because of federal reimbursements.

Last year’s voter-approved budget came in at $14.8 million. Superintendent Jim Hodgkin said he doesn’t know what the target is for this year’s budget. The board, he said, will decide that during the next few weeks.

On March 24, an overall preliminary budget will be presented then reductions will begin. Hodgkin said special workshop meetings will likely be set to pare down the preliminary budget.

Hodgkin said he expects a finalized budget to be approved by the board in April. Then, public hearings will be set.

A vote at a districtwide meeting will be held in early June, followed by a validation vote at the ballot box on June 10.

In other matters on Monday, resignations for the purpose of retirement were accepted for Thomas Gauthier, high school technology teacher; Wally Devoe, district computer technology coordinator; Raymond McKenna, high school special education teacher; and Christine Wing, high school art teacher.

The board also welcomed Mark Henry as the new representative from Roxbury. That town has been without a member on the board for several years.

The board also entered into a closed session to discuss a personnel matter. No decisions were expected.

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