DIXFIELD — Regional School Unit 56 directors have lowered the 2020-21 budget proposal to $12.97 million, a 2.02% increase from this year’s $12.71 million.

Superintendent Pam Doyen said during Tuesday’s board meeting, held via the internet, that employee health insurance premiums did not increase, lowering the budget by $97,500. Region 9 School of Applied Technology in Mexico, which RSU 56 helps funds, also had no increase in its health insurance premiums, reducing its budget by $16,241.

The $12.97 million budget means tax assessments in the district towns would be a 0.855% decrease in Canton, a 2.961% decrease in Dixfield, a 0.744% decrease in Peru, and a 22.96% increase for Carthage.

“The funding formula is 50% valuation from our towns and 50% students,” Doyen said.

The board plans to vote on the budget at its meeting via the RSU 56 Facebook page at 6:30 p.m. April 28.

In other business, Allison Long of Buckfield submitted a grant proposal earlier this month on behalf of the district for a $231,771 21st Century Community Learning Program grant.

“This is a federal grant and the purpose of this program is to establish or to expand community learning centers that do three things: Offer enrichment programs for academics, including tutorials for students who are struggling; to offer a lot of enrichment activities, outside learning opportunities for students; and also offer family engagement, especially in the area of literacy and other related programs for educational development,” Long said.

Dirigo Elementary School students were originally involved in the after-school learning program when the district was part of RSU 10, but following RSU 56’s withdrawal in 2016 they were grandfathered into the program but chose to apply for the grant as a district last year and were denied.

“The big goal is to integrate academic interventions during the school day with the after-school program’s interventions,” Long said. “Also, in the past, the program was only at the elementary school and we’re expanding it through eighth grade so there’ll be two sites, at the elementary and at the middle school.”

If the district receives the grant, the program will begin in July and run for seven weeks throughout the summer and continue in the fall as an after-school program.

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