DIXFIELD — On opening day of classes in Regional School Unit 10, Principal Mike Poulin outlined the cafeteria rules for freshmen at Dirigo High School late Wednesday morning, just as he had done earlier for sixth-graders at nearby Dirigo Middle School.

Poulin is principal of both schools this year, while Mike Hutchins is assistant principal/athletic director at the high school and assistant principal at the middle school. Hutchins also greeted the sixth-graders Wednesday.

Both are facing the challenge of fewer administrators, fewer teachers and fewer support staff because of cuts to the budget. To compensate, some classes are larger, there are fewer art and physical education classes and some staff serve in two or more schools.

“It will be a challenge. There’s a lot of new things,” Mountain Valley High School Principal Matt Gilbert said.

Dirigo and Mountain Valley high schools are switching to trimester scheduling, the same as Buckfield Junior-Senior High School has done.

Buckfield Principal George Reuter is the administrator for the 260 students in grades seven to 12. Courtney Lefebrve serves as a part-time assistant principal.

At Meroby Elementary School in Mexico, Principal Melanie Chasse said her school is offering art and physical education classes twice a week rather than once a week.

At Dirigo High School in Dixfield, schedules are still being worked out, Heidi Broomhall, a Spanish and French teacher, said. She is vice president of the Western Foothills Education Association.

Some conflicts have arisen for students who want to enroll in a Region 9 School of Applied Technology program or take advanced placement classes. Region 9 is on a semester schedule.

“This was a difficult budget cycle with the reduction in staff,” Broomhall said.
She said other conflicts are cropping up with electives.

“We’ll be adjusting the plan as we discover the intricacies,” Mountain Valley’s Gilbert said. “We have the same number of kids (at about 420) and four fewer teachers. This is more difficult for kids.”

Western Foothills Education Association President Craig Dilman said the trimester transition is “huge.” Dilman teaches science at the Rumford high school.

“We’re still trying to figure out how things play out. For future changes, we are hoping to be a little more proactive rather than reactive,” he said.

Superintendent Craig King said he visited every school in the district this week and will have enrollment figures Friday afternoon.


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