May 20, 2013

SAD 59 approves $10.36M budget; voters have say next month

'We have tried to be as fiscally responsible as possible given the situation we are in. We have been handed some terrible numbers from the state,' superintendent says

By Rachel Ohm
Staff Writer

MADISON — School Administrative District 59's board of directors approved a $10.36 million budget for the upcoming school year on Monday.

The budget, which passed by a vote of 5-1, includes an increase of nearly $1 million over the current year's budget to come from local taxpayers. The increase is largely due to costs handed down by the state, according to Superintendent Todd LeRoy.

Overall, the budget is about $600,000 less than last year's budget, although the town of Athens recently withdrew from the school district, bringing Athens Elementary School with it. Brighton Plantation is also expected to leave before the upcoming school year.

The proposed increase to the local asessment for Madison taxpayers is $967,584, for a total of $6,011,274. For 2012-2013 the amount raised from local taxpayers was $5,043,690.

"We have tried to be as fiscally responsible as possible given the situation we are in. We have been handed some terrible numbers from the state," said LeRoy.

The district is facing the possibility of receiving less money from the state and also having to pay for charter schools and a potential shift in teacher retirement costs, said LeRoy.

For the current school year, the district directed about $285,000 to send students to the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences in Fairfield and the Cornville Regional Elementary School in Cornville.

On Monday, LeRoy said he expects the district to pay about $195,000 to the charter schools in 2013-2014.

The district is also facing a reduction of about $61,000 in state subsidies and a potential cost of about $130,000 in teacher retirement costs if a bill in the Legislature that would shift those costs to local school districts goes through, said LeRoy.

He said the recent withdrawal of the town of Athens from the district did not affect the budget too much.

For the current school year, Athens contributed $645,019 in local money to the district budget. State funding based on Athens' total property valuation contributed 11 percent of the money the district receives from the state. Brighton Plantation, which is also in the process of withdrawing from the district, contributed $118,922 in local money and 2 percent of the money received from the state.

The total budget of $11 million passed by just four votes in a validation referendum last May. The final tally was 112–108, with voters in Athens rejecting the measure 54–5.

LeRoy said that although the departure of Athens from the school district means a loss of funds, it is also a reduction in the costs. The district will no longer have to provide staff, resources or transportation in Athens, he said.

"We will carry on as we always have," he said.

A public hearing on the school budget is proposed for June 20 with a referendum vote set for June 27.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368


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