RUMFORD — Regional School Unit 10 administrators should know by Aug. 7 if schools will reopen, Superintendent Deb Alden told directors Monday.

“From now until Sept. 2, when kids would arrive, a lot could happen that we hope won’t happen,” she said, adding that infection rates for the coronavirus are really low now.

The state ordered schools to close in March to prevent the spread of the virus, forcing students to learn via online lessons developed by teachers.

Alden said the district is set to receive $913,117 from the state Department of Education specifically to pay for items necessary for online learning. They include internet hot spots, devices, software licenses, mental health support, professional development for staff for remote instruction and staff planning for reopening.

The district is lining up four committees to prepare for the coming school year. They are Health and Safety, Mental Health and Wellness, Academic Programs and Student Learning and Common Foundation for Remote Learning. Parents, board members, educators and others will be included.

“We are really hoping that things will keep going the way they are and the first week in August we will be … eligible to come back to school,” Alden said. “That said, we want to be ready to be able to remote learn, remote teach and learn,” she said, in case they have to again.

Also discussed was a letter from Hartford and Sumner selectmen requesting the school board “take another serious look at its prepandemic proposed budget and reduce it to keep the budget at the 2019-2020 level, except for contract considerations.”

The budget for 2020-21 is $29.4 million, about $1.5 million more than this fiscal year, which ended Tuesday. Voters will decide the issues at the polls July 14.

“We’re doing our job when it comes to reducing the assessments to five of our towns each year,” Director Peter DeFilipp of Mexico said. “As long as we can keep it within a minimal amount, I think we’re doing our job” to keep costs down.

Assessments for Buckfield, Mexico, Rumford and Sumner would drop under the proposal, while Hanover, Hartford and Roxbury would see increases. The average for the seven towns is a decrease of 1.36%.

Director Gary Buccina of Rumford, responding to the selectmen’s request, said, “I’m a taxpayer, too, and I can understand their concerns. However, I think it has to do with the state’s formula for tax … assessments; based on population and things like that.

“I think it’s on a state level and they could appeal to them, maybe look at how the formulas are and see if maybe things can work out,” he said. “I don’t think it’s anything that we can change.”

In other business, Alden said architects for the new school have done extensive tests on land in Mexico under consideration and will bring their findings to the Building Advisory Committee in July.

Students at Rumford Elementary and Meroby Elementary in Mexico, and possibly Mountain Valley Middle School in Mexico, would attend the school when it opens in [email protected]

RSU 10 logo. RSU 10 Facebook page.


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