MADISON — A music teacher, media specialist, technology employee and education technician would lose their jobs next year under the proposed 2011-12 school district budget.

During the last few months, School Administrative District 59 board members have wrestled with how to manage costs in the face of about $700,000 less in state and federal aid, which includes a $200,000 penalty for not consolidating with another district.

The budget they approved this week and will present to voters in the coming weeks is $11.15 million, about a 2.3 percent, or $270,000, increase from this year’s figure.

School administrators and board members made a “conscientious effort to find a balance such that the taxpayers aren’t overwhelmed, and we haven’t emaciated our instructional program,” Superintendent Lyford Beverage said.

They also wanted to ensure residents of the district’s communities don’t forget about the yearly penalty, assessed to the district because residents voted down consolidation proposals.

“I think the board has been very clear in expressing a desire for the public not to lose track of the fact that they’re losing $200,000 a year to a penalty,” Beverage said. “They’ve been quite adamant we not reduce programming to accommodate the penalty.”

Some enrichment programming will be pared, however, with the pending loss of one of the district’s three music teachers.

In order to make the cut, the board is proposing to reduce general music instruction at the junior high; it wouldn’t cut instrumental lessons or singing, Beverage said.

It’s “more of a music experience, kind of an enrichment activity than a developmental activity. We’re going to try to focus on the developmental,” he said.

Some people are questioning, though, whether two music teachers could handle the resulting workload. The person leaving would be high school music teacher Justin Davis, who began work in the fall.

At the school board’s April 11 meeting, Davis said the recent accreditation results praised the district’s number of extracurricular activities.

He shared a letter from freshman student Kristin Bishop. “The elimination of such a vital position I feel would affect every student in the district at one point or another,” she wrote. “With the help of Mr. Davis and all of his expertise, I am becoming a well-rounded musician.”

Skylar Mongeon, a sixth grader from Brighton Plantation, attended the meeting, too, and said: “I want music to take me a long way in life because this is what I love … It’s a way I can show myself.”

Beverage said the board felt two music teachers would be enough. In hard economic times, three teachers “is from my perspective a luxury,” he said.

Chairman of the board Troy Emery of Madison, said it was too late for the board to consider adding the position back into the budget.

Any changes would have to be made at the budget validation meeting April 26.

“That’s been done before,” Emery said.

The budget also includes the reduction of four other positions, one of which is through attrition.

Costs for instruction are scheduled to increase about $285,000 next school year due to a loss of federal dollars for certain positions, Beverage said. There are also contractual salary increases to account for, in addition to the costs of teachers pursuing advanced degrees.

The school administration budget line is up about $49,000 in order to put administrative assistants at a pay level equal to ed tech IIIs, Beverage said. It also includes a 2 percent increase for administrators.

Costs for transportation appear to be up $83,200, but it’s largely a reassignment of funds from the maintenance budget to account for custodians who are driving buses more often.

System administration is proposed to increase nearly $17,500, largely to account for the incoming superintendent.

Taxpayers from each town would pay the following: Madison, 81.77 percent at $477,150; Athens, 10.56 percent at $61,600; Starks, 5.73 percent at $33,450; Brighton Plantation, 1.94 percent at $11,300.

Erin Rhoda — 474-9534

[email protected]

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