DIXFIELD — The Regional School Unit 56 board of directors voted 4-3 on Monday to support a budget for 2019-20 that would increase spending by 5.5%.

The $12.95 million budget would require a 17% percent average increase to the tax assessments in Canton, Carthage, Dixfield and Peru.

Superintendent Pam Doyen said the three RSU 56 board members who voted against the 5.5% increase wanted a larger increase to preserve as much of the district’s offerings to students as possible.

The board members voting for the 5.5% increase: Samantha Noyes, Bruce Ross and Barbara Chow of Dixfield and Becky Hall of Peru.

Those voting against: Deborah Mooney of Peru, Barry Prescott of Dixfield and Carl Lueders of Canton.

Last Tuesday’s referendum on the $13.27 million school budget failed, with 343 residents voting  for the spending plan and 485 against. Only Canton voters approved the proposed budget, which was an 8% increase to current spending.

Doyen said a 5.5% budget increase would cause taxes on a property valued at $100,000 to increase by $409 in Carthage, $260 in Peru, $219 in Dixfield and $145 in Canton.

Doyen also said the $12.95 million budget could require several positions and programs to be cut or “rearranged.”

Among the district’s options:

• An additional kindergarten teacher at Dirigo Elementary School requested for next year could be filled by using “carryover” funds.

• The after-school music program at Dirigo Middle and High schools could be eliminated.

• The after-school program at Dirigo Elementary School could face cuts.

• The Dirigo High School junior varsity athletic teams could face cuts.

The board is expected to vote June 25 on whether to move forward with the 5.5% budget increase. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. at Dirigo High School in Dixfield.

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