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RSU withdrawal; Both sides heard
DIXFIELD- The question of whether or not the town wants to move forward to withdraw from RSU 10 will be on the November ballot, but resident Jon Holmes noted, “It makes no sense to do it unless our neighboring towns, the ones that made up SAD 21 with us, are on board. I feel strongly after talking to them that they will want to go ahead with it. But, they want to see how things go with us, first.”
At Monday night’s informational hearing townspeople heard the argument from Holmes as to why the town should pay upwards of $50,000 for a study and negotiations to begin for Dixfield to secede from the RSU.
Outlining his concern for the students, local taxes, local control and sports, in that order, Holmes expressed to citizens that he believes, “kids in small school have always done better. I would hate to see us lose our identity.”
RSU 10 Superintendent, Dr. Tom Ward presented the citizens with information of why the region became an RSU four years ago, outlining cost first and foremost.
“If we wanted to preserve what we have for our children, we really needed to begin saving money. We had to evaluate where we were and what was coming in the future. I still believe we did the right thing to regionalize.”
Superintendent Ward noted that over the past four years, this year was the first year the school system had to ask for an increase in their budget. “For the last three years were able to save roughly $2.6 million and kept an overall flat budget and this year we had to ask for three percent. Let me ask you if you have any idea what the increase would have been if you were on your own?”
Ward informed citizens that when their tax valuations rise, their school funding from the state decreases. He also noted that if you have special needs children in your area attending public schools, that it costs upwards of $120,000 per child to attend school each year.
“Are you going to be able to afford that kind of bill? It’s required by law that we allow those students to stay in school until they’re 21 years old.”
Barbara Chow, a 17-year-veteran to the school board, noted, “I was against regionalization when we first started talking about it. Our schools are vital to our community, they are the centers of who we are as a town. People move here for our schools. I don’t know the solution, but I know that I am doing my best to make the best of what we have and if we’re all working together on the same goal, wouldn’t that make more sense?”
Ward left the citizens with one question, “Would you be able to duplicate the services that students are offered now if you were to pull out of the RSU?”
Town selectmen are still working on how to word the question on the November ballot, but assure citizens they will have a vote on whether or not to move forward with the study to withdraw.