Dixfield-based district approves money to keep high school soccer

Regional School Unit 56 Superintendent Pam Doyen, standing at left, speaks Tuesday at the annual budget hearing and vote at Dirigo High School in Dixfield. Seated, from left, are Business Manager Mary Dailey, school board Chairman Barbara Chow of Dixfield, Directors Tim Kelly of Dixfield, Marianne Young of Carthage, Larry Whittington of Dixfield, Liz Kelly of Dixfield, Deanna Dolloff of Peru, Bruce Ross of Dixfield and Don Whittemore of Carthage. Directors Natalie Sneller of Canton and Angela Cushman of Peru were absent. Marianne Hutchinson, Rumford Falls Times

DIXFIELD — Residents of Regional School Unit 56 voted 34-2 Tuesday to add $18,800 to the proposed annual budget to keep the boys and girls high school soccer program next year.

All 21 articles were passed by residents of Canton, Carthage, Dixfield and Peru at the annual district budget meeting at Dirigo High School.

Bethany Meehan-Poulin of Dixfield, a parent of high school students, motioned to add $18,800 for the soccer program.

“We are requesting that increase as we do have enough players to field boys and girls soccer next year,” she said. “We have been told we have 14 girls and I believe 12 boys.”

The increase puts the proposed budget at $13.56 million for 2023-24. A final budget vote will be held June 13 in each town with polls open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

If the budget passes towns will see higher assessments: Canton 12.86%, Carthage 1.086%, Dixfield 3.903% and Peru 3.740%.

The budget for this fiscal year, which ends June 30, is $13.21 million.

The soccer program was cut by the board of directors to lower the overall budget and because school administrators were informed there would be only four boys and 10 girls for it, Superintendent Pam Doyen said at the budget meeting.

Another issue voters approved Tuesday was transferring $565,000 from this year’s fund balances to the bus garage capital reserve fund, which has $500,000. Doing so would cover nearly all the cost.

The June 13 vote will include an article to approve $1.1 million to build the garage near Dirigo Middle School at One Middle School Drive, Doyen said. It would be a 40- by 80-foot metal building with two bays, a bathroom, an office and a mezzanine.

The town has rented a garage from Dixfield for more than 30 years.

Dan McKay of Dixfield asked Doyen and directors if the annual cost to rent the garage from Dixfield is now $24,000.

Doyen acknowledged the town raised the lease by $8,000 earlier this year. She said she was told at a meeting of the Select Board that “the building needed a lot of work, so they were increasing the cost to help eventually pay for some of the work there.”

Bethany Meehan-Poulin of Dixfield casts her ballot Tuesday evening during the annual Regional School Unit 56 budget hearing at Dirigo High School in Dixfield. A final vote on the 2023-24 spending package will be held June 13 at the polls in Canton, Carthage, Dixfield and Peru. Marianne Hutchinson, Rumford Falls Times

Dan McKay of Dixfield speaks Tuesday at the annual Regional School Unit 56 budget hearing and vote at Dirigo High School in Dixfield. He asked directors and Superintendent Pam Doyen if the annual cost of renting a garage from Dixfield, which it has done for more than 30 years, is $24,000. Doyen said it is. District voters will decide next month whether to approve spending $1.1 million to build a garage in Dixfield. Marianne Hutchinson, Rumford Falls Times

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