DIXFIELD — RSU 10 directors Monday night heard a tentative schedule for developing the 2014-15 budget and a discussion about the needs of younger students.

Superintendent Craig King said he believes the board will hold the budget at this year’s amount of $35.6 million. The tentative schedule of budget meetings is:

* Jan. 27, board meeting at Meroby Elementary School in Mexico with presentations by middle and high school administrators.

* Feb. 10, board meeting at Dirigo High School in Dixfield with presentations on gifted and talented programs, curriculum, assessment and technology.

* Feb. 24, board meeting at Mountain Valley Middle School in Mexico and presentations on maintenance and transportation.

* March 10, board meeting and presentations on special services and Pennacook Learning Center in Rumford.

* March 24, board meeting and presentations on all other cost centers at Dirigo Elementary School in Peru.

* April 1, a community workshop and public budget forum at Hartford-Sumner Elementary School in Sumner.

* April 2, community workshop and public budget forum at Region 9 School of Applied Technology in Mexico.

* April 14, board meeting and presentations of potential new positions and the proposed budget at Hartford-Sumner Elementary School.

* April 28, board meeting with action on the proposed budget at Dirigo High School.

* May 12, board meeting with signing of the warrants, at Rumford Elementary School.

* May 22, public hearing on the budget at Dirigo High School.

* May 29, districtwide meeting and vote on the proposed budget at Mountain Valley High School.

* June 10, referendum on the proposed budget in each of the 12 towns.

All meetings begin at 6:30 p.m.

King said there are many programs and offerings wanted for students, but towns can’t sustain them all.

“We have political challenges. A lot of people say the school budget is out of control. Schools are expensive, but are they a burden or an investment?” he asked.

He showed teacher-pupil ratios, administrator-pupil ratios and other data that RSU 10 is pretty much in line with schools throughout the state.

He also said RSU 10 may be eligible for more state funding during 2015-16 because the district is rural, economically challenged and has an exceptionally high rate of children eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.

Another factor affecting the budget is the state requiring local districts to pick up more costs once covered by the state.

King said for RSU 10, that figure is nearly $1.5 million more, along with higher health insurance costs and utility expenses.

On the positive side, workers’ compensation has decreased and the district has cut its out-of-district student placement costs in half, thanks to the services offered at the Pennacook Learning Center.

The elementary principals emphasized the need to keep their staffs at current levels because studies show it’s critical that students are on grade level by third grade. If they aren’t, these same studies show a much greater chance that youngsters will not graduate.

The district has just over 2,600 students from the towns of Canton, Carthage, Dixfield, Peru, Buckfield, Hartford, Sumner, Byron, Mexico, Roxbury, Rumford and Hanover.


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