DIXFIELD — The superintendent and directors of Regional School Unit 56 are considering how and where to hold a districtwide hearing and vote on the 2020-21 budget, as they wait further guidance from the governor.

The public hearing and initial vote on the $12.97 million proposal is tentatively set for June 23 in three rooms at Dirigo High School in Dixfield, Superintendent Pam Doyen said. But that plan depends on Gov. Janet Mills’ restrictions on the size of public gatherings to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

Doyen said she has not heard whether the governor will allow them.

According to Mills’ four-stage plan to restart the economy, issued April 28, gatherings of less than 50 people will tentatively be allowed starting June 1.

“At this point, I’d like the board to consider if we can have a budget hearing, whether you would like to have one even if the governor says we don’t have to,” Doyen said.

She said she and school administrators talked about setting up three rooms at the high school “so that we would have no more than 50 in each space,” and to have the meeting streamlined live in each of the three rooms.

“If we’re allowed to open the buildings and we feel safe that we can do this, then I think it’s our right and the citizens have a right to be able to come in … if they want to attend,” Director Bruce Ross of Dixfield said. “We’ve got to make sure that if we are going to do it live then we’re going to do it safely.”

The budget validation referendum for residents of Canton, Carthage, Dixfield and Peru is scheduled for July 14, the same day as the state primary election.

In other business, Dirigo High School Athletic Director and Assistant Principal Jess McGreevy asked the board to consider having esports as an extracurricular activity for high school students beginning in the fall.

The board asked McGreevy to find out how many students would be interested in participating in the online team video games and report to them at their June meeting.

McGreevy said the Maine Principals’ Association is “going to be starting a new esports opportunity for students in the next school year.”

If approved by directors, she said, the game Dirigo students will play is League of Legends.

“It reminds me a little bit of a team-based capture the flag kind of game that you play and you work with the other people on your team to try to accomplish a goal,” she said.

The cost associated with esports would be $64 per participant or a flat rate of $1,000, whichever is less, McGreevy said. Other costs could include purchasing computer headsets, wireless mouses and an adviser to coach the students, she said.

Director Natalie Sneller of Canton said she thought esports “sounds like a good program,” and would be good if it helps keep students academically eligible.

Those who participate in extracurricular and co-curricular activities, such as e-sports, need to meet academic standards in order to be eligible to participate.

“And if it’s team-based, some of the skills you learn from working with a team are really vital life lessons, so I think there are some really valuable elements to the program in that way too,” Sneller said.

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