SUMNER — Among the many comments voiced Tuesday night, both positive and negative, came one that pretty much summed up how residents of the Nezinscot area of RSU 10 feel about their schools.

And that is that they are safe and they receive community support; and teachers, parents and students all know one another.

That was but one assessment that came out of the first of two so-called tabletop discussions organized by Superintendent Craig King to learn what district residents believe, want and are concerned about.

Nearly 40 residents, along with about 20 district administrators and school board members, attended the session.

The second is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, at the Region 9 School of Applied Technology in Mexico.

King said he planned the two sessions, which he called conversations, prior to the beginning of the 2014-15 budget development process to not only receive input on the current year’s budget development, but also for the long term.

At a special budget workshop Monday night, King proposed reducing the number of positions district-wide by 30 and making a significant number of other cuts.

King learned that the administrative bargaining unit of the Western Foothills Education Association had volunteered to accept a pay freeze for the upcoming school year and was authorized to discuss a possible freeze with the members of the district’s other seven bargaining units.

The potential cuts are the result of having to make up for more than $3 million that must be eliminated for a 2014-15 budget to stay the same as the current year’s figure of $36.5 million. About $1.1 million of that is from a reduction in General Purpose Aid to Education, another $1.3 million from negotiated contracts with the district’s bargaining units and $700,000 from items school building principals described as top priority for their individual schools.

At Tuesday’s tabletop session, other likes or concerns included facing the severe budget situation now rather than waiting, the small-school feel, maintaining the area’s identity, changing educational programs too frequently and developing a five-year plan.

Others said the budget situation is of concern, the sense of community is strong and revolves around the school, there is a high level of trust, a chance for students to travel and a greater emphasis on pre-kindergarten programs.

“We are facing a brutal budget situation,” King said. “We need short- and long-term plans.”

He said the responses gathered Tuesday night, and those that will be gathered Wednesday night, will be collated and distributed to the full board and placed on the RSU 10 website for the public.

Public hearings will be held following the board finalization of a proposed budget, which could come at the April 28 board meeting.


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