MADISON — Residents took just over 45 minutes Monday night to approve the $9.8 million budget for School Administrative District 59 for the coming year. The spending proposal in the budget for 2017-18 is up about $217,800 over the current year’s budget. The budget validation referendum is May 16, with polls open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Town Office.

Interim School Superintendent Bonnie Levesque said in April that she technically is retired and only an interim superintendent, but has been doing the job of high school and junior high school principal as well, without health care benefits from the district. The new budget represents replacing her with two people — including salaries and benefits.

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.

Levesque said the district no longer is compensated for declining enrollment and she is still not sure how much SAD 59 will be getting from the state this year. Madison is the only town in the district after Athens, Brighton Plantation and Starks went their separate ways.

She 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. Following the vote of about 55 residents Monday night, Levesque and board Chairman Bruce Thebarge said they were grateful to the residents of Madison for standing behind the children and providing them with a good education.

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.

Some of the spending lines of the proposed budget include:

• $3.96 million for regular instruction for all pre-K to grade 12 schools, including salaries for 47 teachers, four educational technicians, along with benefits, text books, supplies and salaries for substitute teachers in three schools.

• $1.56 million for special education in grades K-12. The article includes salaries and benefits for 10 teachers, 14 educational technicians, a special education director and a part time secretary, along with supplies, equipment and services.

• $33,225 for career and technical education.

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

• $664,113 for school administration in each of the three schools, including salaries and the cost to run the offices.

• $1.3 million for facilities maintenance.

• $337,265 for system administration, including school board directors, the superintendent and central office salaries and benefits, along with insurance, supplies and software.

• $75,000 in additional costs to operate the school lunch program in all grades.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

filed under: