$11.97M RSU 68 budget set for July 14 referendum  

DOVER-FOXCROFT —  A proposed $11,970,877 RSU 68 budget for the 2020-21 academic year was approved at the annual district budget meeting on June 23 at the SeDoMoCha School. The spending package will now go to a referendum in the towns of Charleston, Dover-Foxcroft, Monson and Sebec on Tuesday, July 14 with residents of the four communities voting either “yes” or “no” to make a district-wide decision on the total amount.


Superintendent Stacy Shorey said the budget has been developed over the last several months with those involved operating under guiding principles of making transparent, student-centered budget decisions and making budget decisions that reflect the district mission statement.


The approximate $11.97 million figure was approved across 21 warrant articles at the district budget meeting by the dozen-plus voters in attendance with minimal discussion over 25 minutes. The gross budget amount is up by 1.58% from the 2019-20 budget of $11,784,238.


“Overall we will see a .03% increase to taxpayers from last year to this year,” Shorey said. 


The combined assessment for the four district communities is up by $2,254 (the .03%) from 2019-20 to a figure of $4,706,937. Based on community valuations, two towns would have decreases in local assessments and the other two municipalities would see increases — all within 1.5% of the current assessments.


This breaks down to a figure of $2,812,069 for Dover-Foxcroft, 0.28% less; $626,236 for Charleston, a decrease of 1.04%; $584,769 for Monson, an increase of 1.2%; and a sum of $682,862 for Sebec, 1.31% more then for the current year.


Before the specific article was approved, Shorey said RSU 68’s share of the Piscataquis Valley Adult Education Cooperative (PVAEC) is up by about 2% to nearly $64,000 (out of $411,180 spread proportionally across the cooperative member districts). “I will tell you that is money very, very well spent,” she said.


RSU 68 had 26 students graduate from adult ed in 2019-20, with about 50 participating in PVAEC programs.


The superintendent was asked about methods of instruction to be used when classes began in the fall, after RSU 68 students joined pupils across the state and nation in remote learning from mid-March until the end of the school year.


“For the fall we have been talking about three pathways that have been talked about quite a bit in the media,” Shorey said. The options include continuing with full remote learning, a return to in-classroom lessons as was done prior to mid-March or a hybrid of the former two options.  


Shorey said the combination model is the most likey of the three, which may consist of half the students attending school in-person two days a week, the other half in the building the other two days with the fifth day to be determined. Pupils would stay six feet apart inside SeDoMoCha and could be limited to a count of 10 in a classroom at once and about two dozen on the bus at a time.


“That’s kind of where we are focusing right now,” Shorey said, saying parent input has been collected to help determine the best method of instruction for 2020-21.


“I’m hoping at the July 21 meeting to bring the board what we hope to be doing so they could discuss it and vote on it,” she said.


In response to another question, the superintendent said the present plan is to have fall athletics for SeDoMoCha Middle School. She said one proposal by the Maine Principals Association has many fall and spring sports switching seasons.


“Again, everything right now is up in the air,” Shorey said.

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