Naoto Kobayashi teaches a Japanese language class on June 14, 2012, at Richmond Middle School. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

DRESDEN — Japanese and English teaching positions have been restored to the proposed $34.5 million budget for Regional School Unit 2 after community outcry over what the cuts would do to class programming. 

The RSU 2 board is instead considering different cuts to education spending.

The board held a workshop meeting Monday night to discuss options after voting earlier this month against the finance committee’s recommended spending plan.

Monday’s revised budget is $10,000 less than the budget of two weeks ago, but now includes the Japanese and part-time English positions. More cuts had to be made for the two positions to be added, and the district had already cut several positions in the original proposed budget. 

The new budget proposal represents an $847,754 increase, about 7.2%, to current spending.

Board members could not vote on the revised budget Monday because it was a workshop meeting, but some said they felt conflicted about funding certain positions while cutting others. 


Dresden Board Member Jeff Bickford questioned adding the positions back into the budget and referred to the part-time school counselor position cut from Dresden Elementary School.

“What if Dresden advocates for a counselor position?” Bickford said. “It’s the same philosophy.”

The board ultimately decided to add the Japanese position to maintain the program within the district’s schools, and the English teacher position at Monmouth Academy to have three full-time English teachers.

The board decided to apply for a grant to fund the Japanese program for 2024-25 and beyond.

Officials were not proposing to cut the Japanese program entirely, but to only offer it at Hall-Dale High School instead of at all schools within the district. Board members have said it is the only such program at those grade levels in Maine.

The Japanese and English positions cost an estimated $118,918, which required officials make other cuts to the proposed budget. The additional cuts included stipends for curriculum leaders, a vacant IT technician position and a vacant tech coordinator position. A Monmouth Memorial School secretary and Hall-Dale Middle School Spanish teacher were also reduced to part time. The reductions totaled $128,038. 


Board Chair Donna Seppy said she is concerned about getting rid of the vacant tech positions.

IT Director Mariah Kelley said the district has gotten by without the positions, although she said the positions would help with School Board meetings and troubleshooting tech issues for staff members and students.

“Just because it’s empty doesn’t mean it’s not needed, and I don’t want to eliminate it,” Kelley said. “We have a need. People are working overtime.”

Board members explained they have to present a budget that will pass in the district’s four communities — Dresden, Farmingdale, Hallowell and Monmouth — and the cost to the four towns will be greater now that Richmond has withdrawn from RSU 2.

Beyond staffing issues, board members were divided on spending $210,000 on cameras, but ultimately decided to keep the cameras in the budget and look to grant funding in the future.

Members of the administration said cameras are helpful in emergencies or if students experience bullying, but board member Chris Myers-Asch opposed the cameras, saying he would rather fund a “social and emotional” position to help student’s mental health. 


“If we are worried about a school shooting, it’s not going to happen in the one place or one school that doesn’t have cameras,” Myers-Asch said. “If you read the research, they’re kids at risk, kids that fell between the cracks. I think it makes sense to point to creating a culture that supports students.”

Superintendent Rick Amero said the budget year has been “unusual,” and that the board received feedback late in the budget process from the community. He said his goal with the budget was to set up the schools to share resources in the future and to start the budget process earlier — about December. 

“I realized how different the (district’s) schools are,” Amero said, “and they shouldn’t be that different.” 

The RSU 2 public forum on the budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Hall-Dale High School cafeteria at 111 Maple St. in Farmingdale, or on Zoom.

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