MADISON — Residents approved a $9.56 million school budget Monday night, a number that represents a 9 percent drop in the amount of local school taxes that need to be raised and a 4 percent drop in the overall budget.

The savings in the budget come from a variety of factors, including a proposed law that would change how charter schools are funded, a $220,000 reimbursement from the state for school buses purchased last year and savings from a new geothermal heating system, according to School Administrative District 59 Superintendent Todd LeRoy.

“We’re very proud of the budget that we’re presenting here to you,” LeRoy told the roughly 65 residents gathered at Madison Area Junior High School Monday night for the budget validation meeting. The budget will also need to pass in a referendum on June 9 before it can be adopted.

Presenting the town with a lower budget than last year without making any cuts to programs or laying off any staff was the result of hard work on the part of the school board and a community advisory board, LeRoy said.

The proposed change in charter school funding under L.D. 131 would save the district $325,000 by having the state pay for charter school tuition rather than funneling the money through local school districts, according to LeRoy. “That $325,000 we had budgeted for charter schools we were able to put back into the budget. We wouldn’t be talking about the same budget if that hadn’t happened,” LeRoy said.

The district was also able to negotiate a one-year contract with the teacher’s union, the Madison Area Education Association, that includes no salary or step compensation increases. That resulted in a roughly $100,000 savings, according to LeRoy. There were some increases in the budget, as well, including the cost of hiring a new junior high teacher to meet a growing enrollment, adding a new night custodial position that had been eliminated in 2014-2015 and a 2 percent increase in heath insurance costs.


Overall, however, residents are being asked to raise about 9 percent less in local taxes. The amount of money to be raised locally for 2015-2016 is $4,972,897.

“There were some other cuts, but these were obviously the two big tickets,” LeRoy said of the savings generated from the charter school funding change and the bus reimbursement. He said some field trips have been eliminated for next year as well as a janitorial position.

The boards faced additional pressure in coming up with a low school budget for 2015-2016 because of a significant change in the town’s tax valuation, LeRoy said. Since August Madison has lost about 30 percent of its property value. That’s because the value at the town’s largest taxpayer, Madison Paper Industries, dropped by $150 million.

As a result of the drop in tax value, taxes in Madison went up 11 percent last year.

“We’re trying to at least hold firm,” LeRoy said. “We tried to act with the town to produce a budget that would not increase taxes.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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