DIXFIELD — The Western Foothills Regional School Unit 10 board began its budget development processes Monday night when Superintendent Tom Ward said the district is losing about $1.2 million in federal aid.

“Before we were an RSU, each district was operating on flat funding,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “Our budgets have gone from flat to reduced. We’ve gone as far as we can.”

In the 2010-2011 budget, there were no job losses due to retirements and attrition, but Ward said this year will likely see some positions cut.

“The best we can do is bring a budget that is fiscally responsible. We can’t talk specifics now,” he said.

The 2010-2011 budget was $34,128,000. About $700,000 in federal stimulus money was include,d which won’t be there this year. That means taxpayers could be responsible for making up the difference.

The region has also lost another nearly $500,000 in federal and state aid, but most of that is expected to be replaced by jobs bill funds and additional Title I remedial reading funds because the population of the region has dropped below 20,000, Ward said.

With the loss of the federal stimulus money, each RSU 10 member town will likely see an increase in school taxes.

Just how much that will be won’t be determined until the end of April after all district cost centers have made their presentations, and the board decides what to keep and what to cut.

That process begins at the next regular board meeting Feb. 14 when each of the seven elementary and middle school principals presents a list of needs each school requires to continue with its educational program.

That presentation will be followed by similar presentations by high school principals, curriculum and assessments on Feb. 28, maintenance and transportation on March 14, and special services, grants and all other cost centers on March 28.

The board is expected to adopt a proposed budget for 2011-2012 at its April 25 meeting.

Prior to a public vote, several informational meetings will be held, one in each of the regions; then a districtwide vote will be held on May 26. That will be followed up by a budget referendum on June 7.

RSU 10 is comprised of the towns of Dixfield, Canton, Carthage, Peru, Rumford, Mexico, Roxbury, Byron, Buckfield, Sumner, Hartford and Hanover. Student enrollment is about 2,800.

“I hope this year (FY 2011-12) is where we hit bottom,” Ward said.

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