DIXFIELD — Regional School Unit 56 directors voted Tuesday night to have voters decide whether to accept a state loan of $214,750 for private bathroom stalls at Dirigo High School in Dixfield.

The question will be on the June 14 ballot.

The Maine Department of Education approved the money from its School Revolving Renovation Fund. The district will be responsible to pay $67,582, or 31.47%, over five years. The state will “forgive” $147,168, or 68.53%, Superintendent Pam Doyen said at the Feb. 14 board meeting.

Director Bruce Ross of Dixfield reminded school board members they are taking an initiative on an issue that’s become a federal law, specifically every student’s choice of which bathroom to use.

Director Marianne Young of Carthage asked Doyen if “it would be a huge issue for those students who are affected if the board does nothing.

Doyen said although the number of transgender and gender-expansive students at the high school is “pretty small,” other students “are uncomfortable with having potentially a gender-expansive or transgender student come into the bathroom that they are using.”


“We’re trying to make it so that everybody feels included and comfortable no matter which bathroom stall they use,” Doyen said.

Director Larry Whittington of Dixfield read a letter from a constituent who has concerns about an article published in the Rumford Times on Feb. 22 regarding the loan. The letter writer asked how many bathrooms and bathroom stalls are at the high school, how many gender-expansive students are there and if the proposal is to build additional stalls or replace existing ones, among other details.

Whittington said he also had concerns about the renovations and the cost of the loan, and thought the board should not  vote to move forward with the renovation until these questions are answered.

Doyen said she will have answers for him and his constituent by the next board meeting March 28 or the one April 4.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: