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Feasibility study proposed on merging schools
DIXFIELD -- When the school board meets Monday, RSU 10 Supt. Tom Ward has announced he will present a proposal for a feasibility study for reconfiguring Mountain Valley and Dirigo region schools.
He said this student will give the board and RSU 10 an idea of the potential impact a reorganization of the Mtn. Valley and Dirigo region schools could have both academically and fiscally on RSU 10.
"This concept does not close any schools. If the board wants to pursue the concept, we will then have informational meetings for the public and our employees in an effort to answer all questions and receive feedback on the concept," he noted.
Ward said they are dealing with a proposed budget of $37 million, which is with the principals and directors coming in at 0 percent increases in their individual budgets. The present budget is $34.1 million.
"Our increase from the state is $277,000 and we need to find $326,000 so we do not have to ask for furlough days. A 3 percent increase of the overall budget is just over $1,000,000. These are just a couple of the examples of challenges we are facing," he said.
Ward said the savings will come from not duplicating co- and extra-curricular activities at Mountain Valley and Dirigo high schools ($250,000 in coaches, supplies, equipment and transportation).
"I want to emphasize that this is not a given and it is not in concrete. We are seeking feedback so we can make the best decision for all students in RSU 10 and present a responsible budget to our communities in very difficult times. We all know that change is difficult and emotional. I am asking that we all keep an open mind as we work through this process.
As proposed, Mountain Valley High School would become the high school. It would serve 547 students in grades 10-12.
Dirigo High School would become a junior high school serving 372 students in grades 8-9.
Mountain Valley Middle School would remain a middle school, but would serve 335 students in grades 5-7.
Dirigo Middle School would also remain a middle school, but would serve 174 students in grades 5-7.
The three elementary schools would no longer house fifth graders. At Rumford elementary, student enrollment would be 270 pre-kindergarten to grade four; at Dirigo elementary, 317 pre-kindergarten to grade four; and at Meroby elementary, 246 pre-kindergarten to grade four.
A high school merger would mean the resulting teams would compete in Class B sports. Now, Dirigo competes in Class C and Mountain Valley is in Class B in most sports. Declining student enrollments together with increasing costs have prompted RSU 10's administrative team to look at both fiscal savings and academic benefits.
Monday's board meeting will get underway at 6:30 p.m. at Dirigo High School.