RUMFORD — The Regional School Unit 10 board of directors Monday approved a $29.4 million budget for 2020-21.

It’s about $1.5 million, or 5.53%, more than last year’s $27.9 million. Averaging the assessments for Rumford, Mexico, Roxbury, Buckfield, Sumner, Hartford and Hanover, it’s a 1.36% decrease.

Charlie Maddaus of Sumner was the only director voting against the budget.

“In this current economic environment, I can’t support a 5% increase, and as time goes on and we see more and more unemployment and we have projections (of) towns and cities projecting anywhere from 12 to 15% reduction in revenue-sharing … I don’t see our economy coming back anytime soon and we’ve got to take that into account. I can’t support anything than more than a 2.5% increase,” he said.

Colby Volkernick, a Mountain Valley High School senior and student representative on the board, reminded directors “there’s 30,000 people-plus unemployed in the state of Maine right now … But at the same time, when we come back this fall, a lot of students are going to need help in different support services.”

He said the board should also aim to keep “everything at a reasonable price for the taxpayers.”

An informational budget meeting for Buckfield, Hartford and Sumner residents will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 17, at Buckfield Junior-Senior High School.

The districtwide budget meeting and vote will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 23, at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford. A budget validation vote is scheduled for July 14 in each town.

In other news, Superintendent Deb Alden said the district will lose its Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education funding, which would have covered the district’s third year of the program beginning Oct. 1.

The Maine Department of Education was awarded a five-year grant of $1.1 million per year, in October 2018 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The funding was for the Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education  initiative to support student mental health through effective state and local collaboration between education and health providers.

RSU 10 has received $200,000 per year the past two years.

Last week, Alden received a letter from Pender Makin, state commissioner of education, who wrote,  “Maine is ineligible for the third year of funding because of our state’s medical marijuana law, which requires schools to allow students who have written certification from their medical provider indicating their need for medical marijuana to receive such treatment while at school.”

“It’s not that our state did not want to continue receiving the grant,” Alden told directors Monday during their online meeting “In fact, they tried very hard to continue receiving the grant but the federal government doesn’t like that we have this law. They are not in favor of that law. They’ve been pretty hard on the states that have some of these laws.”

“Especially with what’s going on now, it’s just really disheartening,” Alden said.

In an email to the Sun Journal on Tuesday, Alden said the district will try to continue some of the mental health support the AWARE grant provided with money from the federal coronavirus aid bill.

Also, Monday, Alden announced the last day of school is June 12. Rumford and Buckfield high schools are planning “drive-in style graduations,” she said, but they “won’t necessarily be at a drive-in movie theater.” The Rumford graduation will be June 11 and Buckfield’s on June 13, with rain date options.

Students and administrators are working out all the details, she said, “and boy, are there a lot of details.”


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