BUCKFIELD — Local resident Deb Paradie told the 40 or so Nezinscot-area residents Wednesday night that if they want to know what happens in RSU 10 schools, they should volunteer.

“You’ll see what the teachers are doing and how hard they work,” she said.

Paradie and others asked questions and made comments during the first of two public hearings on the district’s proposed $36.2 million budget at Buckfield Junior-Senior High School.

The second hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 30, at Dirigo High School.

Superintendent Craig King said although the proposed budget dropped from $36.5 million for this fiscal year year, assessments for all but one of the 12 member towns will rise because there’s less state aid and there are contract obligations.

Byron’s assessment will decrease. Those for Canton, Carthage, Peru, Dixfield, Mexico, Roxbury, Rumford, Hanover, Buckfield, Hartford and Sumner will increase under the proposal.

The board eliminated 44 part- and full-time positions, and made other significant cuts to get to $36.2 million.

Peru board member Lolisa Windover said developing the budget has not been easy.

“No one is making any of these decisions lightly,” she said.

Tom Standard of Sumner agreed with King that sports and other extracurricular activities offered to the district’s 2,600 K-12 students were good programs. However, he objected to the nearly $850,000 cost.

“These are expensive programs,” Standard said. “Still, you’re spending three-quarters of a million dollars entertaining the kids.”

The board cut $150,000 from the original proposal.

King said the cost may be high, but athletics, performance arts and other school activities provide more than 900 students with healthy activities after school.

One woman said such activities were important for student applications to college, as well.

King said the district is working toward meeting the teacher-pupil ratio under the state’s Essential Programs and Services program. There should be one principal for every 300 students and one librarian for every 500 students, under EPS guidelines.

“We’re looking at efficiencies in the future, such as consolidation of some buildings to be closer to the EPS formula,” he said.

Business manager Mary Dailey said grants to RSU 10 are not included in the overall budget.

King said the district is shuffling teacher assignments to make up for many of the eliminated positions, while still providing the same basic education.

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