RUMFORD — Fewer than 30 people approved a $27.73 million budget for Regional School Unit 10 Wednesday evening.

An article for $4.51 million in additional local funds passed 23-5 by secret ballot.

Starting July 1, the district will operate with five fewer towns because Byron, Canton, Carthage, Dixfield and Peru voted last year to withdraw from RSU 10. Byron formed its own school system; the other four towns formed RSU 56.

RSU 10 now includes Rumford, Mexico, Roxbury, Hanover, Buckfield, Hartford, and Sumner.

Mexico Selectman Reggie Arsenault had numerous questions for the school board and asked for decreases in some articles, but to no avail. One of his requests was for a reduction of $100,000 for the $10.48 million, which includes salaries of teachers, educational technicians, substitute teachers and classroom materials.

“The reason why I’m asking for a decrease is every year when we cut our budget at the local level we get hammered on by the school board budget,” he said. “We have senior citizens that are on the verge of losing their homes because taxes are getting higher and higher.”

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Chris Brennick of Rumford disputed the idea raised by Arsenault that students who play sports should “pay to play” in order to “lessen the burden on taxpayers. I strongly discourage the board from moving in that direction (in the future). I understand that we need to defray costs and be fiscally responsible but when you start having student athletes put money into the situation it totally changes the dynamics of the program and it dilutes the educational value that’s there,” Brennick said.

Arsenault also questioned why Superintendent Deborah Alden’s salary was not renegotiated after the withdrawal of the five towns.

Director Charlie Maddaus of Sumner said, “We did have some discussion about the reduction in central office expense and we felt as though in this transition year we needed to keep the staff in place that we had.

“There were two positions that were cut, one assistant in transportation and another assistant in the business office,” Maddaus said. “So, there was a reduction of 8 percent in the central office. The hard part of this is that all of the duties of the central office still need to be done without regard for the number of students and we felt as though with this transition year we needed to have the majority of the staff in place.”

Alden added, “We started out and the tax impact was at 18.5 percent more than last year and we got down to 2.8 percent. We tried really hard to go below that as well. That equaled about $2.3 million that we had to bring out of the budget. We did cut some positions and we really left no stone unturned.”

Approved budget expenditures are:

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Regular instruction $10.48 million;

Special Education $5.6 million;

Career and Technical Education $1.25 million;

Other instruction $780,297;

Student and staff support $2.77 million;

System administration $727,532;

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School administration $1.3 million;

Transportation and buses $1.94 million

Facilities maintenance $2.79 million;

Debt service and other commitments $20,078; and

All other expenditures $69,977.

The budget validation referendum is set for June 13 at polling stations in the seven district towns.

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A vote on a $900,250 bond for the Mountain Valley High School roof repair will be held July 11 in the seven towns.

The next school board meeting is at 5:30 p.m. June 12 at Region 9 School of Applied Technology.

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Mexico Selectman Reggie Arsenault, fourth from left, questioned the Regional School Unit 10 board about the 2017-18 budget during a districtwide budget vote at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford.

The Regional School Unit 10 board of directors took questions from voters during Wednesday night’s meeting and budget vote at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford. Fewer than 30 voters passed the $27.73 million spending plan for 2017-18.


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