DIXFIELD — The Regional School Unit 56 board of directors Tuesday approved a $12.25 million budget for the 2018-19 school year, an increase of 1.5 percent from this year’s spending.

At its previous meeting, the board had proposed a 2 percent increase, but decided Tuesday that further cuts were needed.

Superintendent Pam Doyen told the board that with the increased cuts presented Tuesday, one of the largest reductions would be a $10,000 cut in the budget to pay employees in the district’s school-nutrition program, and the reallocation of money for the summer school program at Dirigo Elementary School from Title 1 funds.

“We need to be able to say that we’ve done everything we can and this is the best we can do,” Doyen told the board.

Budget cuts already agreed upon by the board at prior meetings will affect network upgrades, high school athletics (determined by student sign-up lists), textbooks at Dirigo High School, staff training at Dirigo Elementary School and the Dirigo High School library.

In other matters, Region 9 School of Applied Technology Director Brenda Gammon gave an overview of the vocational school’s $2.18 million budget for 2018-19. RSU 56, RSU 10 in Rumford and School Administrative District 44 in Bethel, along with the towns of Byron, Andover, Gilead and Upton, send students who are interested in vocational careers to Region 9.

The vocational school offers students 11 programs including early childhood education, culinary arts, forestry, fire science and truck driving.

The board approved an overnight trip to Bryant Pond in May for 60 Dirigo Elementary School fifth-graders. Charles Swan, principal of DES, requested the trip for the students and also asked for two school buses to transport the students to and from the school to the recreational area.

“This trip is about ‘stretching’ them (to try new activities),” Swan said. “Some of the kids have never spent the day or night away from home, and some have never gone zip lining or climbed a rock wall.”

Other activities include canoeing, archery, hiking, campfire, wilderness survival and team-building activities.

At Tuesday’s meeting, director Ronnie Hutchinson of Carthage told the board the Dixfield branch of Bangor Savings Bank is collecting jars of peanut butter, jelly and Fluff in May to donate to Dirigo Elementary School students. Hutchinson is a senior customer service specialist at the Rumford branch of the bank. The Rumford branch is collecting donations for Rumford Elementary School.

Donations for Dirigo Elementary School can be dropped off at the Dixfield Bangor Savings Bank branch or at the school.

“This is such an easy way to make a big impact in the lives of the children in our communities,” Hutchinson said.

“Many of the students in our schools go home on the weekends or school vacations with little or no food in the house. This is one of the many ways that our schools are making a difference in the lives of our students.” 

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RSU 56 Business Manager Mary Dailey answers questions posed Tuesday by members of the board of directors. (Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times)

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