READFIELD — The board of directors for the Readfield-area school district has cut several positions to reduce the impact of the district’s proposed $22.9 million budget on taxpayers. 

The Regional School Unit 38 board heard last Wednesday from more than a dozen people who spoke in favor of keeping positions included on a list of potential cuts created by Superintendent Jay Charette. 

While a world language position on the list was not eliminated, the board cut a high school technology interventionist; four bus aids to help manage bus runs; a half-time library education technician; a math education technician; and two technology education technicians, representing $334,876 in savings and trimming to 5.7% the proposed increase to the current $21.7 million budget. 

The contribution by taxpayers in Manchester, Mount Vernon, Readfield and Wayne would increase by an average of 8.24%.

Before the cuts were made, former board member Cathy Jacobs urged the board to think of the students and not the final dollar amount of the budget.

“We are supposed to be making decisions made on what’s best for the students, but I fear we are making decisions based on what’s best for the budget,” Jacobs said. “People want excellence and to continue to have an excellent education in the district. In order to do that, we have to pay for it.” 


Several board members apparently kept Jacobs’ advice in mind when they made decisions on what to eliminate, but a few board members said they thought the cuts were not enough to decrease the impact on taxpayers.

The board voted three times, removing and restoring positions in the budget, before finally voting 10-3 to cut some of the positions.

Rebecca Lambert, Christine Gatto-Shea and Kristin Dubois voted against the motion. Gatto-Shea said she did not want to eliminate any positions. Lambert said she wanted to cut more positions to minimize the tax impact.

Charette’s list included positions funded with COVID-19 relief grant money. They included a math and literacy education technician; two middle school teachers; a technology integrationist; a world language teacher at the middle school; five elementary school positions, three that included the part-time Wayne Elementary School and Mount Vernon Elementary School principal; an elementary nurse; and an elementary guidance counselor.

Lambert unsuccessfully proposed to eliminate nearly every position Charette had suggested on his list, but to keep the two middle school teachers and the middle school world language teacher on the list.

“The increase we have in front of us, in addition to the 44% increase in the county (taxes) and whatever the town’s (budget increase) is, I think it’s too much for the more vulnerable community members,” Lambert said. 


Board members recognized the steep increase to taxpayers, but said they wanted to minimize the impact cutting positions would have on students, especially after hearing from the school communities.

Rick Sirois, the principal at Maranacook Community Middle School, said eliminating more middle school positions would force the school to restructure, which it has just spent months doing, with a new class and teacher plan. 

Board member Keltie Beaudoin said retaining teachers, while other districts scramble to hire them, is important. Worry over eliminating teacher positions could affect teacher retention and student learning gaps, especially those worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We took an oath to be the best possible resource for students,” Beaudoin said. “I’m not here to dictate what’s expensive for someone, but what’s nonnegotiable are the resources for the kids.”

Other areas increasing the proposed budget include a 1% payroll contribution to the Maine Paid Family Leave at $79,000; a transportation staff contract increase of $67,000; administrative and director contract increases of $48,000; increasing a half-time elementary school music position to full time for $40,000; $38,000 for the transportation department; $15,000 for extracurriculars; and a $12,000 increase in central office costs.

The board is expected to take a final vote Wednesday on the proposed $22.9 million budget.

The districtwide vote is scheduled for 7 p.m. on May 8 at Maranacook Community Middle School at 2100 Millard Hanson Drive.

The referendum vote is set for June 11, in conjunction with the state primary election.

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