DIXFIELD — Regional School Unit 56 directors reviewed three possible budgets at their meeting Tuesday night in an effort to get a spending plan passed for 2017-18.

The district’s proposed $13.2 million budget was rejected by voters this month. It represented an increase of over 20 percent in assessments to Canton, Carthage, Dixfield and Peru, compared to last year when they were part of RSU 10.

The board considered proposed budgets of $12.99 million, $12.75 million and $12.5 million, with possible cuts in curriculum development, technology upgrades, an administrative assistant to the superintendent and a reduction in overtime by staff.

Also under consideration was the possibility of one to three furlough days, but because a state waiver and Department of Education approvals are needed, the board will not have those approvals for furlough days in time for their July 11 vote on the budget.

Other cuts under consideration are one Dirigo Elementary School teacher, two Dirigo High School teachers and a reduction in the after-school activity bus runs.

“What we wondered was maybe if we could cut back the number of days that we offered transportation, to go to a two-day or cut one bus run altogether and make a little longer route with some of the buses,” Kenny Robbins, director of Buildings, Grounds and Transportation, said.


Interim Superintendent Brenda Gammon said that the longer bus runs would be a drawback.

Further reductions in co-curricular and extracurricular activities were also considered.

“I can’t stand here and tell you which activities that would be, whether it would be tennis or golf, I can’t tell you,” Gammon said. The athletic director and principal of the high school would tell the board where the cuts would fall and their decisions would be based on the activity’s cost and student participation, she said.

The deepest budget cuts would eliminate the entire extra and co-curricular activities for all three of the schools and also eliminate upgrades in technology for students, educators, administrators and board members.

Director Bruce Ross of Dixfield said, “I pretty well know the Dirigo region and having kids grow up through here, we can pretty well say that (residents) are not going to want to see their extra and co-curricular activities diminish. You’re going to pretty well destroy the school (if you do that).”

Director Natalie Sneller of Canton said, “I think that going deeper than $13 million is too deep. The only proposal I would agree with from (the mid-range budget) that I would say we should try to pursue is moving our PowerSchool licensing to state money instead of local money.”


PowerSchool is a student information system used by schools to track students’ grades, attendance and class schedules.

Anne Chamberlin of Canton said, “There’s absolutely no way that I would support the cuts (to eliminate all extra and co-curricular activities). That is destroying the district.”

Chamberlin said she agreed with the change to move PowerSchool funding and she would probably agree with fewer after-school activity bus runs, even though the rides would be long for the children.

In November 2016, Canton, Carthage, Dixfield and Peru voted to withdraw from Regional School Unit 10 to save money and gain more control.

The new district begins operations on July 1.

In other business, the board hired Gina Puiia as a special education teacher for Dirigo Elementary School. Puiia has been an educational technician in the Life Skills program at Dirigo Elementary School for several years and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in behavioral studies, Principal Charlie Swan said.

The school board plans to vote on the 2017-18 budget at their meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 11.


Regional School Unit 56 Director of Buildings, Grounds and Transportation Kenny Robbins speaks to the board of directors Tuesday night in Dixfield about the possibility of cutting some of the district’s after-school bus runs. 

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