DIXFIELD — The Regional School Unit 56 directors offered differing opinions Tuesday on the proposed $13.32 million budget for 2021-22.

The figure is $348,664, or 2.7% more than the $12.97 million for this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

Superintendent Pam Doyen said about $252,235 is for employee salaries and benefits. A 10% increase in health insurance costs is budgeted but the exact amount won’t be known until April, she said.

Directors Bruce Ross of Dixfield, Carl Lueders of Canton and Larry Whittington of Dixfield, stated their case for a budget increase of 2.7% or less.

Directors Brad Dyer of Carthage, Joe Brissette and Konstantin Aslanidi, both of Peru, and Donald Whittemore of Carthage said there should be no increase at all.

“There’s a lot of people who are hurting (financially) and I think times definitely look uncertain, Brissette said. “The price of fuel is going up. It definitely affects people in this area heavily. I’d like to see a budget with no increase this year.”

The directors also reviewed the possibility and costs of adding a kindergarten through grade 8 world language teacher. The Dirigo High School language teacher is retiring and the language teacher at the Dirigo Middle School would become the French and Spanish teacher at the high school in Dixfield, Doyen said.

“It’s best to have a kindergarten through (grade) 8 world language teacher because we all know from research that students start to learn languages better at a younger level,” Doyen said. “So, our preference in replacing the high school teacher would be to have a K through 8 world language teacher.”

Other budget additions under consideration include upgrading a secretary position at Dirigo Middle School to an administrative assistant to the school and to the school’s curriculum coordinator, reinstating the math team at Dirigo High School and replacing the baseball scoreboard at the high school.

The next board meeting is at 6:30 p.m. March 23 at Dirigo High School and may also be viewed by Zoom and on the RSU 56 Facebook page.

Doyen asks that all interested constituents attend to discuss the 2021-22 budget proposal.

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