MADISON — The local school district is considering eliminating its art, music, business and health departments if the proposed budget is not supported and they are forced to make more cuts, according to the superintendent.

Last month the board of directors of School Administrative District 59 passed a $10.36 million budget, which includes an approximately $900,000 increase to local taxpayers.        

Residents will consider the budget at informational meetings on Thursday, as well as on June 20. A validation meeting is also scheduled for June 20 and a referendum vote for June 27.

Superintendent Todd LeRoy said that while the board of directors has already made as many cuts as possible, the budget is still exceptionally high and they are considering making more cuts if it is not passed by voters.

“We are experiencing some tough times. We have been cutting responsibly all the way along, but if we are forced to cut anything else it is going to be programs. It is going to be people,” said LeRoy.

He said that preliminary layoff notices have been given to 14 teachers and staff already, in order for them to have as much time as possible to look for other positions, if the layoffs do happen. Those include 11 teachers, one educational technician, one social worker and one nurse, according to a press release from the Maine Education Association.

Jen Wiltse, a high school science teacher and teachers’ union president, said teachers, students and parents would be meeting Wednesday at 3 p.m. at the Madison Area Memorial High School cafeteria to discuss the proposed budget and the potential effects if it does not pass.

“These proposals are so drastic and affect every student that teachers had a hard time believing they could be true. We want to make sure parents understand the gravity of the situation and choose to support students and support the schools,” said Wiltse.

Overall, the district’s budget is less than last year, but since two communities have left, more of the financial burden has shifted to Madison residents, said LeRoy. The towns of Athens and Brighton Plantation withdrew from SAD 59 earlier this year in favor of forming their own school districts.

LeRoy said there are a number of other things that have also caused the local share of the budget to increse, including a reduction in funds received from the state, the cost of sending students to charter schools and a potential shift in teacher retirement costs from the state to local districts.

Rachel Ohm —  612-2368
[email protected]

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