DIXFIELD — The Regional School Unit 56 board of directors signed several warrants at its meeting on Tuesday at Dirigo High School in preparation for the district’s budget meeting on May 23 at Dirigo High School at 6:30 p.m.

Among 21 articles, residents of the towns of Canton, Carthage, Dixfield and Peru will also vote on an overall proposed 2023-24 budget of $13.55 million, a 2.5% increase from the $13.21 million for this fiscal year, which ends June 30. Referendum voting on the 2023-24 school budget will take place in each of the towns on June 13.

At the start of the budget meeting on May 23 there will be a hearing to discuss building a bus garage for the district on One Middle School Drive. The district has rented space for its buses at the Dixfield town garage for 30 years.

During a board of directors meeting on March 28, Superintendent Pam Doyen said regarding costs of building a new bus garage, “At $1.1 million, it takes about 30 years to get back what we were currently paying in rent to be somewhere else but there are still some positives that we need to consider in terms of just the workspace (at a new garage).”

Also at the March 28 meeting, Director Don Whittemore of Carthage said that he and other directors had toured the garage and that he “would be surprised if it’s standing in the next five years.”

The district has $500,000 in a capital reserve account for the new bus garage, and voters will be asked in June if they want to spend an additional $600,000-plus for the project, Doyen said at the meeting in March.


In other business

The board of directors decided to table a request from Jon Holmes of the Poodunck Snowmobile Club in Dixfield for the group to purchase or lease property at the district’s 33 Nash St. property.

Jon Holmes, left, a member of the Poodunck Snowmobile Club in Dixfield, asks the Regional School Unit 56 board of directors Tuesday at Dirigo High School if the district would allow his group to purchase or lease property at the district’s 33 Nash St. location. The group wants to construct a building to store a new trail groomer. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

Holmes told the board that the snowmobile club is in the process of seeking to buy a new groomer for their snowmobile trails at a cost of “about $350,000,” he said.

“We’ve got a couple of grants we’re working on, and I think we have a pretty good chance of getting one. One of the requirements is that we keep (the groomer) under cover, especially in the summertime,” Holmes said.

Board Chair Barbara Chow of Dixfield and other directors had questions about Holmes’ request, asking if the group would be financing and insuring the building, among other questions.

Director Bruce Ross of Dixfield said that in his years of being a member of the board, the district does not usually sell land, but, he said, he was open-minded about “moving forward to do something with a building on it once I see more information and blueprints on it.


“I can see us giving a kind of a long-term lease to (the property),” Ross said.

Dirigo High School Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Nick Karavas spoke to directors about high school students skipping school, describing it as “the number one issue (or problem)” at the school.

According to recent data shared with the board of directors at a prior meeting, DHS principal Pam Doyen showed with a graph drawing that there were about 160 student referrals to administration for skipping school compared to the next highest, student defiance, at almost 40 referrals and inappropriate language at 20 referrals.

Karavas told the board that he is working on a plan to prevent students from skipping school and that he has spoken with other administrators from the district and within the Mountain Valley Conference “about different types of techniques that we can use to kind of crack down on that a little bit more and to make sure that (students are) staying engaged in their classroom,” he said.

The school typically issues in-school suspensions or detention for students with school skipping referrals or at times out of school suspension, Doyen said in an email on Wednesday. “We continue to research best ways to reduce skipping,” she wrote.

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