MADISON — Residents gave preliminary approval to a $10.08 million school budget Thursday, which includes a significant reduction in the amount of money expected to be collected in local taxes and has minimal impact on programs and jobs in the district, according to the superintendent.

The $10,089,870 School Administrative District 59 budget includes a $390,737 increase in what has to be raised by local taxes and takes $300,000 from the district’s reserve account.

The original proposal approved by the SAD 59 board of directors May 20 was $10.36 million.

The budget must get final approval with a validation referendum next week.

The changes approved Thursday include no additional layoffs of faculty or staff.

“I was very proud and pleased. It has been a long spring for us,” said Superintendent Todd LeRoy.

The budget includes $180,500 in cuts to regular instruction, including teacher salaries and classroom supplies, but no layoffs.

Earlier in the month the district issued 14 preliminary layoff notices to faculty and staff, saying that if any additional cuts were needed to reduce the original budget some or all of those positions would be reduced or eliminated.

On Thursday, residents approved reducing the hours for an elementary art teacher, elementary music teacher and physical education teacher by one day per week. They also voted not to replace a retiring fifth-grade teacher, even though the elementary school has only one teacher per grade.

The health program was also cut in half, which means the hours and salary of Karyn Bussell, the district’s only health teacher, have been cut in half. Although she teaches in both the junior high and high school, next year she will only teach at the high school.

“I know its a tough decision that had to be made but I think in today’s world, health education is especially vital for our students,” she said. Bussell, 43, of Skowhegan, has taught in the district for 12 years. She said she wasn’t sure if she would need to look for another job.

“I haven’t even thought about it. I wanted to add more electives next year, but now that’s not going to happen,” she said.

LeRoy said the cuts to regular instruction were the best the board of directors and administrators could do.

“We were able to avoid eliminating any full-time positions and without significantly impacting your children, grandchildren and the services we provide them,” he said.

Residents also approved a $20,000 reduction to the co- and extra-curricular budget, which represents less than one percent of the district’s current co- and extra-curricular budget.

The vote was preceded by an hour-long informational meeting in the Madison Junior High School auditorium.

The board and superintendent presented the new plan for additional cuts, which was welcomed by some residents but questioned by others.

One resident walked out of the vote because he said he was frustrated with what he felt was a limited opportunity to offer input.

“The board automatically made me feel like I was hurting kids and programs by not supporting their budget,” said Doug Denico, 69.

Other residents said they appreciated the board’s efforts to reduce the budget.

“I’m not too crazy about it, but I think its better than what it was. My only concern is that there may be cuts in co-curriculars,” said Matthew Bleaman, 47.

“I think its a very good compromise and I feel comfortable supporting this budget,” said Jeff Lloyd, 57. He said he understood that while some people may have wanted a higher budget and others a lower budget, he thought that the board had done a good job reducing the budget from what it originally was.

Residents also approved using $300,000 from the district’s reserve account to reduce the amount of local taxes that will have to be used to pay for the budget.

LeRoy said the reserve fund is used to pay bills and finance payroll ahead of when the district collects tax and state income. “It’s a precarious position but we are willing to do it because we don’t want to lose the teachers, staff and administrators that we have,” he said. “Especially when we are making strides and getting closer to the kind of schools we want to be.”

Before the budget can be adopted it must be approved at the polls in a validation referendum vote. The vote is scheduled to take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 27 at the Madison Town Office.

Rachel Ohm —  612-2368
roh[email protected]

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.