DIXFIELD — The Western Foothills Regional School Unit 10 board agreed unanimously Monday night to extend the deadline for staff to submit retirement resignations until May 1.

If Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed budget doesn’t pass by then, the board could extend that deadline even longer, they said.

Staff eligible for retirement had until April 15 to decide whether to retire at the end of the school year. However, because a state legislative decision has not yet been made on whether to eliminate health insurance until a retiring school employee is 65, some eligible employees have not announced intentions to retire.

Under the current system, a retiring education employee can receive health benefits at younger ages providing they meet other requirements.

Seven teachers or educational technicians have submitted letters of retirement the past couple of months. Several of those chose to retire now because of the possible loss of benefits, as well as a possible 2 percent increase that would be paid into the retirement fund if the governor’s budget proposal passes.

Superintendent Tom Ward said the number of retirees could affect the region’s proposed budget.

“We want to extend the deadline as long as we can,” he told the board.

The number of staff who choose to retire will also affect the number of other staff who may be laid off due to budget constraints.

He said the final proposed budget, including most recommended reductions, for fiscal year 2011-12 ,will be unveiled at the board’s next meeting at 6:30 p.m. April 25 at Rumford Elementary School. Ward said all reductions, except personnel cuts, will be made known at that time.

In other matters Monday night, Mountain Valley Principal Matt Gilbert updated the board on the status of the reaccreditation process. He said a team from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges will visit the high school May 1 to review the self-study conducted by staff and community members during the past year or so. The team will also conduct interviews of the school board and other community members.

Ward urged all school board members to attend the meeting with the NEASC team.

“This is a priority for you to be there,” he told the board.

Part of the accreditation process calls for a set of core beliefs by the high school.

The school board approved the Mountain Valley High School Core Beliefs, which reflect much of what had been in the school’s mission statement. This calls for academic, social and civic respect, and a partnership of students, families, staff and the community to help meet student goals.

RSU 10 comprises 12 towns: Rumford, Mexico, Byron, Roxbury, Dixfield, Canton, Carthage, Peru, Buckfield, Hartford, Sumner and Hanover.

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