PERU — The Maine Department of Education will reimburse Regional School Unit 56 for $42,000 in special education costs, according to a school official.

Special Education Director Heidi Connelly informed the RSU 56 board of directors of the expected payment Wednesday night.

Connelly was hired in July following the resignation of Susan Moore at the end of the school year.

Because Connelly was able to bill the state for some special education services, such as transportation, as far back as September 2017, the district can expect to see the funds from the state.

Business Manager Mary Dailey said the $42,000 from the state is not from MaineCare funding.

She said the money “has to be considered revenue for 2017-18,” and will be applied to the general budget.

In other matters, Crystal Duguay, director of the Western Foothills Regional Program in Rumford, updated the board on a program for students with special needs.

“The school has 33 students and each classroom has six students and three staff members,” Duguay said. “All of the students have individual health plans (because) they are all special education students.”

The district spent $900,000 renovating the building over the summer and ‘Zen rooms,’ where kids can go to calm down, were added, Duguay said.

The board also heard from Kathy Berberian and Sarah Whynaught, a mother and daughter from Peru gave a presentation concerning their desire to buy the district-owned building at 33 Nash St.

Adjacent to Dirigo High School in Dixfield, the building was most recently a wellness center for the community and office space for RSU 10.

The women told the board they want to turn the building into an independent senior living center with at least 21 small suites that would include a living room, a bedroom and a private bathroom, Berberian said.

Other plans for the senior living center include reopening the gym for local schools and the public to use, and as the site of yoga, art and craft classes.

Superintendent Pam Doyen told the board Berberian and Whynaught must present their offer to the school district’s real estate agent before a decision can be made.

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Crystal Duguay, director of the Western Foothills Regional Program, addresses the RSU 56 board of directors Wednesday night. (Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times) 

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