MADISON — A shift in spending lines for district administration will add slightly to the School Administrative District 59 budget when residents head to an informational meeting Tuesday on the spending package.

The meeting and discussion on the proposed $9.8 million budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Madison Junior High School cafeteria. The budget validation meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 8 at the same location, and the budget validation referendum will be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 16 at the Madison Town Office.

Interim School Superintendent Bonnie Levesque said spending for new principals at the high school and at the junior high school is part of the proposed budget for 2017-18. The spending proposal is up about $217,800 over the current year’s budget, Levesque said Friday.

Levesque is retired and only an interim superintendent, she said, and she has been doing the job of high school and junior high school principal as well, without health care benefits from the district.

“It shows an increase in those (spending) lines, but it’s because we replaced me with two people who are not interims or retired,” Levesque said. “They are getting paid a salary and benefits for the job they do.”

Levesque said Jessica Ward is taking over as permanent principal at Madison High School and Ryan Arnold is taking over at the junior high school. Ward worked during the current school year as a teaching principal, but Levesque said with all the work needed in establishing proficiency goals and other important duties, the need is there for two full-time principals. There is no curriculum coordinator, so that’s filling another gap, she said.

“We do not have any adjustment any more for the decline in enrollment, so that impacts our bottom line,” she said. “It’s changes in the funding formula primarily that have caused the increase that we have.”

Levesque said the allocation from the state this year is expected to be $3,249,042, up from $3,169,780. But Levesque, like other school administrators in Maine, is hoping the Legislature will increase allocations to schools.

In her letter to Madison residents, Levesque writes that everyone has been worried about what life might be like after the paper mill closed. Now, she said, they are “about to embark on the reality of that journey.” She said that for three years, the school district and the school board have made every effort to keep taxes from being increased by the school budget.

Unfortunately, she writes, costs do increase, and much of that is beyond the control of the local school board. In any case, it continues to be the “moral obligation” of the district to provide a good education to Madison children, she said.

“Your tax dollars are well invested to educate our youth,” she writes.

She said in an interview Friday that when the town loses $30 million in taxes because the mill closed, it puts stress on the remaining taxpayers.

“The SAD 59 school budget has not increased taxes for several years now,” she said. “Unfortunately, this is a little bit of the perfect storm, having the governor change the funding formula and having the mill close.”

Some of the spending lines of the proposed budget include:

• $3.96 million for regular instruction.

• $1.56 million for special education.

• $33,225 for career and technical education.

• $8,843,101 for student and staff support.

• $664,113 for school administration.

• $1.3 million for facilities maintenance.

Levesque, who took over after Superintendent Todd LeRoy resigned in March 2016, first came to Madison as the principal of the junior high school in 2005 and said she will stay on as interim superintendent for one more year.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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