DIXFIELD — The Western Foothills Regional School board welcomed many of the new staff members for the soon-to-start school year Monday night.

The board also began discussions on how to use federal stimulus money recently approved by Congress.

About two dozen new teachers, educational technicians, bus drivers and secretaries will greet students. Half of them attended a special reception by the board Monday night.

Superintendent Thomas Ward said he plans to bring a plan to the board, as early as the Sept. 13 meeting, that will outline options for possibly reinstating some of the 11 positions that were eliminated due to budget cuts.

The state has not yet said how much money RSU 10 will receive. Maine’s total share of the federal money in support of education is expected to be $39.1 million, according to a statement by Rep. Michael Michaud’s office.

Ward said the greatest need is for an additional kindergarten teacher at Dirigo Elementary School in Dixfield. The school has 19 kindergarten students per class. The district’s other kindergarten classes have enrollments of 10, 11, 12, 14 and 15. With the addition of a kindergarten teacher at Dirigo elementary, the average size for each class will be 14.

Other positions requiring consideration include fifth-grade at Meroby Elementary School, Mexico, and sixth-grade at Dirigo Middle School, Dixfield, as well as music tutors districtwide, Ward said.

Whichever positions are reinstated will be advertised as interim because the federal money is for one year only.

In other matters, the board re-elected Buckfield board member Jerry Wiley as chairman and Bruce Ross of Dixfield as vice chairman again.

In other matters on Monday, Ward said the district is working with a law firm to get a legal opinion about the state’s mandate to obtain student Social Security numbers. Assistant Superintendent Gloria Jenkins said the state wants the numbers as part of a data management system that will track students through their education and careers.

Members of the Negotiations Committee met in closed session after the regular board meeting to plan meetings on a new contract for district teachers. The current contract expires at the end of August.

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