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RSU 10 waiting for state budget
DIXFIELD -- RSU 10 is awaiting the completion of the state's biennial budget before beginning work on a second proposed 2013-14 budget to be presented to its 12 towns.
At the June 11 referendem, voters defeated the initial proposed 2013-14 operating budget of $36.18 million for RSU 10 by a mere 32 votes. The budget, which represented a 2.9 percent increase, was defeated by an unofficial vote of 1,573 to 1,541.
Voting results were: Sumner, 20-34; Hartford, 32-33; Buckfield, 102-111; Canton, 97-41; Carthage, 10-8; Dixfield, 252-129; Peru, 166-142; Mexico, 226-255; Roxbury, 16-31; Byron, 5-8; Rumford, 603-778; and Hanover, 12-3.
Voters also overwhelmingly approved continuing the two-part budget process for another three years.
On Monday, Supt. Tom Ward presented the board with a budget timeline, which has the directors approving a budget on July 8, with the informational meeting on July 23, the budget validation meeting on July 25 and a validation referendum vote on July 30.
Ward said this timeline will allow them time to learn what the state budget will be.
"The reason that this is important is that the new budget has more money for education," he said.
Ward noted that when it was believed that the burden for the district to pay half of the cost for teacher retirement, a cost of $400,000, it was not included in the proposed budget. "Instead, we said, if that went through, we had two areas we said we'd get most of the money -- asking the communities to run club sports at the middle school level, and eliminate the leadership teams in all the schools."
Ward said the money that's being added to the budget is to cover that $400,000. "In one way, it makes it easier for us that our budget was voted down because we can go back, we have to do redo the budget anyway. Now we can include that $400,000 in the regular budget and see what we end up with for additional funds from the state."
"I think we're in a dilemma," he noted. "Number one, we don't know how many voted down the budget because we cut too much. The other dilemma is that we have to be careful how much we do cut. In my opinion, we've hit the wall. We've been cutting and cutting and cutting for four years now. We've done everything we can to minimize the impact to the towns. As a matter of fact, in Rumford and Mexico, they've seen a decrease."
In other business, the board hired a new assistant principal for Dirigo High School and signed a two-year contract for the recently-hired superintendent.
Michael Hutchins, who is the current assistant principal for Lewiston High School, was hired to serve as assistant principal and athletic director for Dirigo High School under Principal Michael Poulin.
Monday’s board meeting was also the last for Ward, who leaves at the end of the week. He will likely provide whatever assistance newly hired Superintendent Craig King may need during his first few weeks.
King was hired to replace Ward at an earlier meeting. He currently serves as principal of Mt. Ararat in Topsham and was granted a two-year contract with RSU 10 beginning July 1. His salary for 2013-14 will be $114,000. The second year’s salary will be determined at a later date.
King’s contract and Hutchins’ appointment were made following two closed sessions that lasted about 40 minutes.
Steve Ouellette of Jay had been hired a few weeks ago to fill the Dirigo High School AP/AD position, but has since decided not to take the position and will remain with his current school district in Gardiner as an administrator.
Hutchins replaces former AP/AD Chris Moreau.
The board also approved taking out a $4 million revenue anticipation note to be used as needed to meet payroll until school taxes come in. The funds will be available from Androscoggin Bank at a .84 percent interest rate. Ward said the district used $2.1 million of the $4 million it was allowed to borrow during the current year.
He said normally district carryover funds would be used, but because of the merger four years ago that required leftover monies from each member district to be returned to the towns, RSU 10 has not yet been able to build up carryover money.