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RSU 10 to propose $36.18M budget
RUMFORD -- When it came down to a show of hands for a proposed budget Monday evening, the RSU 10 board was evenly divided, 8-8. A weighted vote was required.
Four minutes later, by a tally of 9,066 to 7,679, it was decided to bring forth a proposed budget of $36,181,848, as recommended by Supt. Tom Ward.
The 2.95 percent increase was more than some were expecting when the budget was first presented, but Ward noted that an increase of $87,000 for the Region 9 budget and not eliminating a techology position prevented a lower figure.
The proposed budget will mean an increase for seven towns -- Buckfield (up $38,053 or 2.71 percent to $1,440,305), Byron (up $8,056 or 2.98 percent to $278,505), Carthage (up $9,497 or 2.7 percent to $362,719), Hanover (up $19,421 or 7.8 percent to $268,736), Hartford (up $15,186 or 1.2 percent to $1,251,633), Roxbury (up $71,478 or 17.97 percent to $469,283) and Sumner (up $16,502 or 2.3 percent to $719,237); and a decrease for the other five towns -- Canton (down $11,183 or 1.6 percent to $679,443), Dixfield (down $9,701 or .55 percent to $1,765,201), Mexico (down $60,420 or 4.6 percent to $1,254,807), Peru (down $57,211 or 3.67 percent to $1,505,338) and Rumford (down $92,774 or 1.4 percent to $6,408,213).
Regional information meetings, a chance for taxpayers to ask questions or make comments on the proposed budget, will take place at 6:30 p.m., one on Wednesday, May 22 in the Region 9 cafeteria for the Dirigo/Mtn. Valley Regions, and one on Thursday, May 23 in the Buckfield Town Office for the Nezinscot Region.
The first vote will be taken during a districtwide, town meeting-style election at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 30 in the Muskie Auditorium of Mountain Valley High School in Rumford. The final figure that results from that vote will then be validated in each of the member towns by referendum on Tuesday, June 11.
To come in at the $36,181,848 figure, Ward said the administrative team suggested potential cuts totaling $1,539,044.
One of the cuts was $113,000, representing one half of the MLTI laptop program.
By supplying 50 percent of the cost, Ward said he learned that they if they supply Ipads to grades 9-10, they still get all the other supports and services through Apple. They will still do the wireless infrastructure. They can take all the laptops they presently have in grades 9-12, move half of them to the elementary level, so they will have one-to-one laptops throughout most of the district.
Earlier, it had been suggested that the district consider eliminating costs for conducting accreditation of the district’s three high schools in Rumford, Dixfield and Buckfield. However, Ward learned that instead they could delay the process for a year to evaluate it or to seek a viable alternative.
The savings would be $30,000 in this budget. Buckfield was about to go through the accreditation process, with Dirigo to follow a year later.
Also recommended was not adding another pre-kindergarten class at Dirigo Elementary School in Peru, a savings of $100,000.
DES Principal Charley Swan said that entering the school year, there were 45 applicants for 30 slots. There's presently a pre-K program at each of the elementary schools, which caters mostly to four year olds.
Ward said they would save $150,000 if the district is able to lock in a $3 per gallon rate for diesel/No. 2 heating oil.
Other recommendations for removal from a proposed 2013-14 budget include: a $223,500 reduction in building maintenance; $132,500 from technology; and the elimination of two educational technicians, one of the four trip bus drivers ($50,000), three interim teaching positions ($120,000) and a half-time industrial arts teacher ($44,000), for which they've advertised and have not been able to fill.
Regarding industrial arts, Ward said they would find a way to share the industrial arts teacher at the Dirigo Middle School with the high school.
The recommendations also included returning the second floor of the Buckfield Town Office building to the town ($11,000 per year to operate). However, that will have to be voted on the whole district warrant.
Also, reducing the stipends paid for co- and extra-curricular stipends by 10 percent ($41,376), cutting the costs for co- and extra-curricular supplies by 10 percent ($25,000); savings on retirement incentives ($100,000); and cutting 10 percent from building budgets ($64,000).
And, cutting $50,000 from Special Services for out of district placement; $18,000 from curriculum staff development; $25,093 from paper supply/cost per copy charges; and $48,668 by moving the food service assistant back into the self-supporting nutrition program, which they are working to get back into the black financially.
In other business, the board held two executive sessions. One concluding with a vote of hiring Richard Abramson as an interim superintendent during the summer. Ward resigned effective June 30 to lead RSU 9 in Farmington. Abramson, who recently retired, was recommended by Maine School Management.
The second meeting concluded with the board approving Steven Ouellette as assistant principal and athletic director at Dirigo High School. He will be replacing Richard Moreau.
The board supported a joint application with the Rumford Police Department for a federal grant that would fund a school resource officer in the Mountain Valley Region. The Rumford Board of Selectmen is expected to vote on submitting the application on Thursday.
Asst. Supt. Gloria Jenkins said that next year, consideration will be given into seeing in the Dirigo and Nezinscot regions would have an interest in the program. Ward noted that in 2014, there will be even more funding available federally for this program.