RUMFORD — The Regional School Unit 10 board of directors Monday debated whether to cut the proposed budget for 2020-21 or add to it because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $29.5 million spending plan is $1.6 million more than this fiscal year, which ends June 30. On average, assessments for Rumford, Mexico, Roxbury, Buckfield, Sumner, Hartford and Hanover would drop 0.74%.

Health insurance costs were expected to increase 2%, but the district has been advised there will be no increase, saving $86,000, Superintendent Deb Alden said during Monday’s meeting via Zoom and the district Facebook page.

Asked their thoughts on the budget proposal, only Director Charlie Maddaus of Sumner thought it should be lowered because of the hardships created by the pandemic, including closing schools.

“It’s just a question of what can we afford,” he said. “And going forward I think there’s very little chance that we’ll be back in school this year, following all of the news. There’s no way. We don’t even have testing for this virus.

“I think we’re going into a deep recession but we might come out fairly quickly, but the next four or five months is going to be really tough and it’s gonna take people some time to come out of it,” Maddaus said.

Although some said Maddaus might be correct, most agreed with Director Travis Palmer of Rumford, who said the current “struggles and hardships” were “all the more of a reason to put more in this budget than anything else.”

“We’re going to have kids coming back to our school district who will have been without school for a quarter of a year, without direct instruction anyways. They are going to be facing a lot of trauma at homes and we, as schools, we provide a lot of resources for these kids, so the more we give to them the better,” Palmer said.

The board plans to vote on the budget April 27. The 6 p.m. meeting will be held live on the RSU 10 Facebook page.

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