Residents from among the 16 towns sending students to the Region 9 School of Applied Technology in Mexico vote Wednesday at the school to approve a $2.4 million budget for 2023-24. It passed, 59-12. The adult education budget of $429,880 also passed, 38-23. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

MEXICO — The $2.4 million budget for Region 9 School of Applied Technology passed by a vote of 59-12 during a contentious meeting Wednesday at the school on River Road.

Moderator Dave Duguay of Byron said a two-thirds majority was necessary for passage.

The amount is $399,727 more than the $2.02 million for this fiscal year, which ends June 30. The director of the school, Brenda Gammon, said last month that there are increases in heat, electrical services, supplies, insurance and salaries, as well as new programming and salaries and benefits for new positions, and additional staff to support higher enrollment.

Sixteen towns from three school districts send students to the vocational school: Rumford, Mexico, Roxbury, Hanover, Bethel, Newry, Woodstock, Greenwood, Dixfield, Canton, Carthage, Peru, Andover, Byron, Gilead and Upton.

Regional School Unit 56 Director Larry Whittington of Dixfield said he had “a problem with the budget being overinflated by $90,000.” He said in his review of the Region 9 board meeting minutes of April 5 he read that board member Bruce Ross of Dixfield had motioned to approve the 2023-24 budget for $2.3 million and it was seconded by Peter DeFilipp of Mexico.

However, there was “no discussion, no vote,” he said, and after that the amount was amended to $2.4 million. He claimed that the amended amount “couldn’t have passed because they never had a vote on the first motion.”


Region 9 Finance Committee members Judy Boucher of Byron and Roberta Taylor of Bethel addressed his comments.

Boucher said directors had “many minutes, maybe even an hour of discussion on why we wanted to have it be the amount that it’s at. The electrical bill has gone up, fuel has gone up, teachers’ pay has not been raised in three years or more, and we felt that by bringing this budget before you tonight it was a fair amount. Every budget from last year has increased by more than that in every district.”

Boucher also said much of the increase was for supplies, and some directors wanted to take a lot of the supply money away.

Taylor said one reason for the increase is enrollment for next year is over 180 students, compared to 121 this year.

“We also introduced at least two new programs with teachers and supplies,” she said. “So, for that reason we thought it was very, very fair for us to be able to do that for all the students and also offer classes that students would take,” Taylor said.

Before voting 38-23 to approve the $429,880 adult education budget, Whittington took issue with incoming Adult Education Director David Murphy’s salary, noting an increase of $31,786 from that of Sue Brennan, who is resigning from the position effective June 30. She is paid $48,039.


Murphy will take over July 1 with a negotiated salary of $79,825.

According to a story in the The Bethel Citizen on April 26, Murphy will leave his role as superintendent for Maine School Administrative District 44, but work 16 hours per week at 40% of his salary, or $45,548 plus $4,500 in benefits.

DeFilipp said Murphy was hired “to help reinvigorate the whole program because in the past we’ve had some problems keeping people and getting the program going.” Directors also felt Murphy has the resources to reinvigorate the program,  he said.

The$429,880 adult education budget is $32,025 more than this fiscal year. A total of $316,999 will come from the 16 towns and the remaining $112,881 from government subsidy, tuition from students outside RSU 56, RSU 10 and MSAD 11, and carryover from this year.

Voters also approved establishing a fuel and electrical reserve fund to cover unanticipated electrical costs, and authorized the Region 9 board to use any additional state education subsidy money.

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