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Town, School Budget Referendum Is Tuesday

Published 05/08/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 05/07/2013 04:11 PM

By Marianne Sullivan
The Source

Taxpayers go to the polls Tuesday, May 14 to vote on 2013-2014 fiscal year budgets for both the town and the school system. The total requested for both budgets is $74,023,741, a $2.1 million or 3.0 percent spending increase. Individually, the town budget totals $22,142,877, up $900,000 or 4.2 percent from current spending, and the education budget totals $51,880,864, up $1.3 million or 2.6 percent.

Voting will take place from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Residents in the first voting district will vote at the Madison Senior Center, 29 Bradley Road. District 1 voters are those who live at properties on the even numbered side of Green Hill Road and south. Residents in the second voting district will vote at the Brown Middle School, 980 Durham Road. District 2 voters are those who live at properties on the odd numbered side of Green Hill Road and north.

Absentee ballots are available at the town clerk's office. Visit the town clerk's website, http://www.madisonct.org/Clerk/voting.html, for complete information on obtaining absentee ballots.

The town government budget, proposed at $22.1 million includes a $177,829 increase in health insurance costs. The increase was expected. The town budget also includes $1.14 million in the long term capital maintenance fund.

In explaining the Board of Selectmen budget requests at an earlier public hearing, First Selectman Fillmore McPherson said the board chose to begin building up its capital budgets. The capital budgets suffered over the past few years as town officials sought to keep budget increases low in the face of the economic recession. Operational budgets took precedence.

Having experienced a tropical storm, a superstorm, and a blizzard over the past two years, McPherson said the selectmen decided to increase the capital and operating budgets for emergency preparation. There are no new positions requested in the 2013-2014 fiscal year budget.

The town's long term capital maintenance budget includes locker replacement at Brown School, energy efficiencies at Polson School, replacement of the synthetic playing field at Daniel Hand High School, and roof replacements and fire alarm system replacement at the Town Campus.

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice said the education proposal "maintains all existing curricular and extracurricular programs and will allow the Madison public schools to continue to offer our students a high quality educational experience." The total Board of Education budget as proposed is $51,880,864.

For the next school year, the education budget includes the addition of a full day neighborhood kindergarten program. It will require the addition of three classroom teachers, three instructional paraprofessionals and one special assignment paraprofessional. At the same time, the full-day kindergarten program will allow the district to eliminate one elementary assistant principal position, a general secretary's position and a health aide.

While adding full-day kindergarten, the school district continues to experience a decline in student enrollment. That decline is reflected in the proposed budget. There is a reduction of three teachers from grades kindergarten through 4, two teachers from grades 7 and 8, and one elementary mathematics specialist-all based on enrollment decline. Also, the budget calls for the reduction of instructional paraprofessional positions attributed to enrollment reductions in grades kindergarten through 4.

There are other staffing changes within the budget. The anticipated reduction of grant funding for special assignment paraprofessionals has prompted the addition of seven paraprofessionals to the district budget. There is also the addition of an elementary special education program coordinator. The position is being requested to meet the increased demands of program and staff supervision.

By charter, taxpayers are asked to approve the town and school district budgets separately. The referendum questions posed on the Tuesday ballot are:

• "Shall the town government budget of the Town of Madison for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2013 and ending June 30, 2014 in the amount of $22,142,877 be approved?"

• "Shall the education budget of the Town of Madison for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2013 and ending June 30, 2014 in the amount of $51,880,864 be approved?"

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