WALES — RSU 4 Superintendent Jim Hodgkin said Wednesday night that the children of the school district will lose out if more cuts are made to the $18.8 million budget rejected by voters Tuesday.

He said he worried that the students in the district that includes Sabattus, Wales and Litchfield already don’t have certain academic choices compared to students in neighboring districts.

School board member Nancy Provost brought up some public comments that she had heard about the board not hearing the public’s opinion, adding that it seems many feel the board removed fluff from the first budget and didn’t make any cuts that hurt, she said.

Cuts shouldn’t hurt the students and staff, she said, and the board wants to prevent doing so. 

A diploma is more important than athletic programs when it comes to cuts, board member Robert Gayton Jr. said. 

“I will not sit here and support another program, staff or educational cut,” he said. “People aren’t going to like the things we are going to have to cut. This is reality.”

Gayton asked Business Manager Scott Eldridge for some hard numbers on what a 10 percent decrease from every co-curricular and extracurricular program would look like.

Eldridge will present this figure at the next board meeting.

Board member Scott Weeks was surprised at the low voter turnout, saying that in three towns, less than 400 people voted to represent 1,500 students. The total vote was 184-213.

Board member Joan Thomas wondered who would move to a community that doesn’t support education.

Hodgkin announced a tentative date for the next school budget meeting to be held Wednesday, Aug. 24, at the Oak Hill High School gymnasium at 6:30 p.m. with a referendum vote to be held Tuesday, Sept. 6, in all three towns.

The budget that was approved at the annual budget meeting is considered the operational budget, even though the budget did not pass at the referendum vote, Hodgkin said.

Selectmen in Litchfield were considering using last year’s budget when figuring tax assessments, but this is illegal, according to RSU’s attorney, Hodgkin said. It is up to the individual towns if they want to delay their assessments until a new budget has passed, he said.

In other business, the board:

• Elected Bisson as chairman by a vote of 5-3.

• Unanimously elected Jessica Childs as vice chairman.

• Heard Senior Halee Lair’s presentation of her senior project, which raises awareness for scoliosis. Lair is hosting a 1.8-mile fundraising run which begins at the American Legion in Litchfield on Aug. 13 at 9 a.m. Lair, who has scoliosis, is hoping to implement training for the nurses at Oak Hill Middle School for screening to continue for students after sixth grade, as well as to purchase scoliometers which cost about $15 apiece. Lair has taken her idea all the way to the state level. For more information, visit facebook.com/scoliorun.

• Gave Hodgkin a thank-you note and a gift card from the Litchfield Senior Center for their gratitude for picking them up on a recent trip after their bus broke down and there wasn’t an available driver to retrieve them. Hodgkin holds a bus-driving license, so he did the honors.

The school board will meet again on Wednesday, Aug. 10, at 6:30 p.m. in the Health Room at Oak Hill High School. The budget for fiscal year 2016-17 will be discussed.


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