MADISON — Voters in Madison accepted the proposed $11.32 million budget for Maine School Administrative District 59 at the district’s validation meeting Monday, leaving a June validation referendum as the final step in the spending plan’s approval.

About 20 residents attended the meeting at Main Street Middle School, quickly passing all 17 articles with little discussion.

The proposed $11,320,745 budget for 2024-25 represents an increase of about $308,000, or 2.8% more than the spending plan approved last year. MSAD 59 serves about 550 students in the Somerset County town of Madison.

The amount raised by Madison taxpayers is expected to increase by about 6.17%, from about $4.97 million to $5.28 million, according to budget documents. That’s in part because the state’s allocation for the district decreased by about $313,000, from about $5.5 million to $4.74 million. The state funding is calculated using several factors, including property valuation, poverty metrics and student enrollment.

Madison’s valuation increased, while school enrollment decreased, leading to a reduction in state funding, MSAD 59 Superintendent Bonnie Levesque said during an informational presentation before the meeting.

“This year, we hit the perfect storm,” Levesque said.

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Officials in other central Maine school districts have also blamed the state funding formula for not keeping up with costs, resulting in increases to local property taxes.

Levesque also pointed out that MSAD 59 no longer has COVID-19 relief funds, even as students continue to carry “emotional baggage” from being out of normal school routines for an extended period.

“We had to make some hard decisions about programs and people,” she said.

Cuts include an educational technician position, a technology staff member and a part-time maintenance job, according to Levesque. Library and technology positions at Main Street Middle School and Madison Junior Senior High School will be restructured.

In addition, a foreign language teacher who resigned will be replaced by Rosetta Stone learning software, Levesque said. Only 14 students were enrolled in the foreign language course.

The cuts were considered as the district addressed rising costs, from utility bills to negotiated salaries and benefits for teachers and staff members, Levesque said.

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At the same time, the district plans to add positions to address new needs, including a second teacher and ed tech for pre-K and an assistant principal at Madison Junior Senior High School.

The assistant principal, who will also serve as the athletic director, was necessary because the district has recently moved seventh and eighth grades to the school, Levesque said. The additional administrator will help handle day-to-day tasks, such as student discipline.

“We have a group of students that are constantly in the office,” Levesque said.

In addition, contracted services from Kennebec Behavioral Health, which had been funded through a grant, will now be funded by the district, Levesque said. Those services total at least $30,000 per year.

Spending in other areas, including student and support staff and facilities maintenance, is set to decrease slightly in the spending plan, according to budget documents.

Residents are expected to vote June 11 on the budget’s final approval at the district validation referendum. Polls are scheduled to be open that day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Old Point Avenue School at 108 Old Point Ave. in Madison.

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