DIXFIELD – The SAD 21 board spent nearly three and a half hours Monday night working through the proposed special education and transportation budgets as they continued to develop the 2008-2009 operating budget.

And similarly to neighboring SAD 43, the development of the budget is very difficult because of the higher costs for fuel and heating oil, the vocational school’s new addition and renovation project, and uncertainty about state aid to education.

Superintendent Tom Ward said his district is looking into the possibility of sharing a building, grounds and transportation director with SAD 43. Currently, both districts have their own.

If the position is merged, it would be restructured to include a change in duties, Ward said. Other departments may also be merged as the budget development process continues.

“We’re looking at the whole picture,” he said.

Although other positions throughout the district may be cut, Ward said those won’t be announced until the April 14 meeting when he plans to have a preliminary budget ready.

He is hoping that no one will lose his or her job, similar to last year during the budget development process. Instead, a sufficient number of retirements and people leaving their jobs for other reasons compensated for the positions lost.

This current year’s operating budget is $10.8 million. Ward isn’t ready to estimate how much that might grow. Before the April 14 board meeting, he said he plans to visit with the boards of selectmen in each of the district’s four member towns to discuss this year’s budget development issues.

Residents of Canton, Carthage, Peru and Dixfield will approve an operating budget, most likely in June.

In other matters on Monday, the school board approved a boost in the mileage rate for the handful of district employees who must use their personal autos to do their jobs, from 35 cents per mile to 50 cents per mile until the end of the current school year. A new rate will then be established, but will never decline unless the Internal Revenue Service rate decreases.

The board also made several appointments for sports coaching positions.



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