DIXFIELD — There are several new programs for students in the Western Foothills Regional School Unit 10 this year.

The first day of school for teachers is Aug. 25, and for most students Aug. 26.

One of the themes for the 2001-11 school year is digital citizenship, which is an extension of the anti-bullying program, Superintendent Thomas Ward said. Staff members will view a presentation on Internet bullying at a workshop next week to better identify and act on such behavior by students.

Also new is an alternative education program for middle school students. It will be held at Mountain Valley Middle School in Mexico. Ward said about 10 students are enrolled.

Also new is an alternative education program for Buckfield-area high school students who will attend classes at Dirigo High School in Dixfield.

Mountain Valley High School will continue to offer its alternative education program on campus. Both the Dirigo and Mountain Valley programs are expected to enroll between 12 and 15 students.

Other Internet/digitally related applications this year include online student handbooks for all schools, online district policy book, and the startup of Power School technology availability for Dixfield- and Buckfield-area parents.

The Mountain Valley region of Rumford-Mexico already has the program. Power School allows parents to track their child’s progress, grades and other data online through the program.

The district also has a new website: www.rsu10schools.com

A variety of maintenance projects were completed during the summer, including new carpet at Hartford-Sumner Elementary School, roofing at Mountain Valley Middle School, drainage repair at Meroby Elementary School in Mexico, and town water installed at Buckfield Junior-Senior High School.

A new announcer’s stand was built at Harlow Field in Dixfield by volunteers.

Ward said a new teacher contract has been preliminarily approved, with final approval expected in September.

So far, about 22 new staff have been hired, with just a few educational technician positions remain to be filled. Excluding the new staff, the district employs 585 people.

Ward said the district has a student enrollment of about 2,900, a slight drop from last year. However, while some grade levels have experienced a decrease, some will see overcrowding because of the reduction in staff and new families moving into the district.

He said a greater number of kindergartners are enrolled at Dirigo Elementary School than expected, along with more sixth-graders at Dirigo Middle School, and fifth-graders at Meroby Elementary School.

He said he’s hoping that a federal jobs package will provide funding to reinstate some of the 11 positions that were lost. He said he won’t know the district’s share of that money for several months.

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