DIXFIELD — Superintendent Tom Ward said he is thankful that Western Foothills Regional School Unit 10 is losing “only” $882,000 in General Purpose State Aid to Education.

He said it could have been much worse. The figure includes both the curtailment for fiscal year 2009-10 and the reduction for 2010-11.

The recently merged district has other things to be thankful for, as well, he said.

Measures were taken when the former SADs 39, 43 and 21 merged into RSU 10 to retain almost $2 million in carryover funds. The member towns will have that amount to apply to their 2010-11 school assessment.

“If we hadn’t had carryover from each region, we would be in a lot of trouble,” he said.

Although RSU 10 will lose less state aid than many other districts with similar student enrollments, the upcoming budget year won’t be easy, Ward said.

“I think we’ll have to look hard at our federally-funded positions and whether we can put back any into the budget,” he said. Much of that money comes from a federal stimulus package that is due to expire next year.

“We’ll start with attrition and retirements. Then we’ll evaluate the positions,” he said.

Work on the district’s 2010-11 budget was due to start at the board meeting set for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 8 at the central office. And although Ward said he would discuss some of the impacts of the state aid reduction, he will likely wait until Feb. 22 to provide a more thorough overview.

He’s waiting to receive the state valuation for each member town, then show the school tax change for each town for a variety of proposed budget increases.

“State valuations went up in every town except Rumford,” Ward said, resulting in a 1 percent reduction in district valuation.

The board will begin development of a strategic plan for the district on Monday. It will include such things as what direction the district is taking, and what the needs will be in the future.

“It will be the development of future district goals,” Ward said.

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