BUCKFIELD – A major step in forming Regional School Unit 10 – the Western Foothills School District – was accomplished Tuesday night, when positions required to administer it were filled.

Nineteen central office jobs, both professional and support staff, and full- and part-time, were filled after an intense interview process of member district employees who applied for jobs. Many positions were restructured to reflect new duties.

Superintendent Tom Ward said the equivalent of 6.9 positions were eliminated under the consolidation plan. He said employees who filled 2.5 of those positions lost their jobs. The rest were cut through attrition.

The staff reductions cut about $230,000 in salaries and $75,000 in benefits, he said.

Central office staff are moving from their respective offices to the RSU central office in Dixfield.

In other matters, Policy Committee member Maida DeMers-Dobson of SAD 39 said committee research recommends that board members be paid $25 for each board and committee meeting, along with mileage for attending meetings, unless a committee and board meeting are held back-to-back. Then, mileage will be paid just once. She said the committee found that other new RSUs pay their members.

Board members can choose not to be paid.

Because the RSU does not go into effect until July 1, and therefore does not have a budget, sending districts must absorb any stipend costs.

The next big step in the reorganization of the existing three school districts begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the community room of Dirigo High School when Ward will unveil a tentative budget for school year 2009-2010. The budget that is approved by voters from the 12 member towns on June 9 will be for the operation of all three districts.

This school year voters in the three districts approved about $34 million for the education of 3,000 students.

Ward said an additional $1 million is already built into the three budgets because of existing labor contracts. However, the RSU board or the board’s Budget Committee will be working on the total budget during the next five or six weeks before it is presented to voters.

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