RUMFORD – Superintendent Jim Hodgkin expects the SAD 43 district to get through the rest of the fiscal year without a serious problem despite a nearly $200,000 reduction in state aid.

He isn’t as hopeful about the fiscal 2010 budget.

With the state expected to lower financial assistance to school districts by another $27 million next year, taxpayers in the district’s four towns may have to pay $1 million more to sustain the existing educational program. Hodgkin believes some staff positions may be cut, instead.

Hodgkin updated SAD 43 directors Monday night on the effects of $196,000 in lost state aid. He said a spending freeze that went into effect about two months ago has prevented problems.

A spending freeze means student field trips have been stopped, as have payment for teachers taking courses, and the purchase of supplies and materials, unless crucial to a class.

He expects the year to finish out OK unless the governor’s supplemental budget, which is expected to be announced in a few days, carries with it more cuts in state aid.

He plans to meet with administrative teams and other staff at each of school to discuss the cuts as well as development of next year’s budget.

“They need to know how dire things are,” he said.

Also on Monday, Hodgkin said a mock disaster drill is being planned at one of the district’s schools with the Rumford Police Department for early next year. The mock drill is part of a district-wide crisis management plan under development by a committee headed by Mountain Valley High School assistant Principal Chris Decker.

In other matters, the board will vote on whether to turn back the central office building to the town of Mexico when it meets in January.

Under the plan for the newly formed regional school unit, which includes SADs 43, 21, 39, the new central office will likely be housed in Dixfield.

Selectmen from Mexico discussed the anticipated ownership of the former classroom building at their meeting last week. They learned that the University of Maine System, which has a satellite facility on Brown Street, may be interested in leasing the SAD 43 central office.

In another matter, Hodgkin said an inspector from the state Department of Labor is conducting an audit of the district’s buildings as part of the requirements for the merger of the three districts.

Information and recommendations from the audit is expected to be presented to Hodgkin later in the week.

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