DIXFIELD — Regional School Unit 56 directors voted Tuesday to hold a virtual hearing on the school budget at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 30.

Voters in Canton, Carthage, Dixfield and Peru can participate and view the proceeding via the RSU 56 Facebook page or by using Zoom, an internet service.

The proposed budget for 2020-21 is $12.97 million, an increase from this year’s $12.71 million. If approved by voters, the average increase in tax assessments among the four towns would be 1.287%.

Superintendent Doyen said Tuesday that there were two options for the hearing: virtual or in person.

For the latter, the district would have to comply with Gov. Janet Mills order limiting gatherings to no more than 50 people to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, she said. Two rooms at Dirigo High School in Dixfield would hold 50 people each who must be at least 6 feet apart.

“But if more than 100 people came you would have to disband,” she said. “If you have the 101st person show up then you are no longer in compliance with the law; you have to disband, you cannot send anybody away because then you have an invalid vote because people have a right to vote at an in-person hearing.”

She said the district’s lawyer recommended not having the hearing in-person.

The virtual hearing approved by the board offers viewers the ability to make comments and give feedback online or by email and phone, “however they cannot in a remote or informational hearing, vote on the budget,” Doyen said.

That vote will be July 14 at polling places in each town.

In other business, Doyen said that due to safety concerns because of the coronavirus pandemic, the district will not have its planned Project Graduation celebration for Dirigo High School graduates at G-Force Adventures Laser Tag in Brewer.

The seniors raised $1,900 for a deposit but were told by the business that the money would not be refunded with their cancellation.

Doyen said the district has decided to split the remaining Project Graduation money among the 44 graduates and write each of them a check so that “they would do something (after graduation) with their family.”

Cathy Arsenault, RSU 56 payroll and accounts payable specialist, told the board that a group from Rumford has been collecting donations for the Dirigo High School seniors to make up for their lost deposit.

Board Director Don Whittemore of Carthage said state attorneys should be contacted about the seniors’ loss of their deposit said thought he could get that arranged.

In other news, Jason Long, principal of T.W. Kelly Dirigo Middle School in Dixfield, told the board eighth grade students may participate in an overnight camp experience at Camp Susan Curtis in Stoneham in mid-August.

The large facility will be open for the summer and will work only with Maine children, he said.

“They were willing to work with us and offer us a weekend so we would be the only people at the camp other than the staff,” Long said. “Their facility is huge, they host hundreds of kids at a time.”

About 50 Dirigo Middle School students will attend the camp, divided into small groups spread out over the property to allow for social distancing, Long explained.

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