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Proposed RSU 10 budget would cut 13 positions
DIXFIELD -- A number of program cuts, as well as the elimination of 13 positions, are on the horizon if voters pass the proposed 2011-12 RSU 10 budget.
That's because the Western Foothills Regional School Unit 10 board voted Monday to accept a zero-based budget and present a June budget equal to last year's total of $34.2 million. Doing so meant cutting more than $2.7 million from the proposal budget.
Board members Tracey Higley of Rumford, Judy Boucher of Byron and Betty Barrett of Mexico voted against the measure.
That budget, which will have to also account for $1 million in salary increases, $240,000 increase in health care costs, higher fuel costs, higher property values, lower state aid to education, and the elimination of federal education funds, will still more than likely mean an increase in school taxes for 10 of the 12 member towns.
Supt. Tom Ward noted that with a budget at a zero percent increase, it's still more than a $600,000 increase to their communities. "That because general purpose aid was shunk again by the state. When the general purpose aid shrinks, it means the locals have to pay more to get the state funding. We're funded at a little over 61 percent right now by the state."
The impact of the town assessments shows the largest increase for Dixfield ($180,762), followed by Buckfield ($123,393), Rumford ($108,120), Mexico ($107,104), Peru ($57,799), Hartford ($36,768), Sumner ($28,778), Carthage ($21,361), Canton ($18,105) and Byron ($8,069).
Seeing decreases would be Roxbury ($47,934) and Hanover ($34,630).
Ward said state valuation plays into this as well. "When the district's overall valuation goes up, we get less from the state."
Also helping the towns was that this was the third and final year of carryover monies from when the three school district became a RSU. Mexico was not helped as it took carryover funds over the first two years.
"In another year, we're finally going to start catching up the decline in property values as state valuations will not increase as much. For RSU 10, our state valuations are going to drop overall. That why I feel fairly good about the coming year, 12-13, because there will be $40 million more for general purpose aid, plus the district's state valuation is going to be less. That means we'll get more aid from the state," noted Ward.
Of the position cuts, seven will involve laying off personnel. Retirements and leaving positions vacant will make up the rest.
Among the losses were the elimination of the middle school alternative education program, out-of-district placement for several students, about $45,000 in miscellaneous athletics expenses, the district tutor, a physical education teacher at Mountain Valley Middle School and several educational technician positions. Others were the Mountain Valley High School athletic director, several special education coordinators who receive stipends, a full-time special education evaluator, technology equipment, fewer workshop days and subsequently, fewer costs for substitutes, and a myriad of other cuts that often reduce full-time positions to part time.
"None of these are things we want to cut," noted Ward, adding that this morning, he learned of a surprise retirement, a savings of $20,000. "A question is how much more Title I funding are we going to get? If there is more federal funding, we can put some of these back."
Beyond that is a savings of $336,000 with three furlough days, which would take the place of workshop days and not affect student days.
Ward said the educational association will decide early next week whether to agree to three unpaid furlough days. In an effort to further reduce the number of employees who could lose their jobs, the board agreed with Ward's recommenation to keep the deadline open for teachers to retire without taking away their retirement stipends.
The next meeting of the board will be at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, May 23 at the Mountain Valley Middle School when the warrants will be signed.
Public hearings in each of the regions will take place from June 6-8. The districtwide meeting vote takes place June 9, followed by a referendum validation vote on June 14.