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MIKE DeVRIES - The Capital Times

The Madison School District will head to the bargaining table with many of its union employees this summer with instructions not to allow a pay raise for those workers, under actions taken Monday by the Madison School Board.

The board voted to calculate its budget for 2010-11 “on the basis of a zero-percent salary increase” for bargaining units representing painters, custodians, educational assistants, school security assistants and support employees such as computer technicians and clerical staff. The wage freeze for those employees would save the district an estimated $1.05 million.

The board was silent, however, on whether it would ask Madison Teachers Inc. to reopen a two-year contract to request a pay freeze for teachers. That proposal was listed on the agenda for a closed-door meeting the board held Monday evening prior to a public session on the budget.

The board has been working for months to close a gap in the district’s 2010-11 budget originally estimated at $30 million, and last month approved a salary freeze for all administrative staff. Budget work will continue Tuesday night, followed by a public hearing on May 17.

The district’s final date for teacher layoff notices is May 24. But discussions will remain ongoing as the board looks for more cost savings, said board Vice President Lucy Mathiak.

“Certainly this week the big issue is layoffs, and making those personnel decisions,” Mathiak said. “We still have time to make amendments if we can think of other ways to save money before we lock in the final budget and the tax levy in October.”

As a cost-saving measure, the board made cuts to some Madison School and Community Recreation summer teen programs and voted to hike adult MSCR program fees an average of 30 percent. Earlier proposals by the district to raise adult MSCR fees as much as 70 percent led to an outcry from participants, particularly older adults, board members said.

About 50 front-line school jobs facing possible cuts were restored to the budget Monday, including the full-time equivalent of 19.25 custodial, facility operations and painter jobs; 17.83 instructional resource teachers; 8.69 special education assistant positions; and five Hmong bilingual resource specialists.

The board also voted to keep the district’s planetarium at Memorial High School open by charging Madison public school students 50 cents for admission. Non-Madison students would pay a dollar and the general public $2.50, allowing the planetarium to break even, said Board President Arlene Silveira.

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