NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 5, 2013

Triton school merger voted down

BYFIELD — A proposal to merge the Triton Regional School District’s middle and high schools got a unanimous thumbs down from the district’s School Committee this week.

The school board’s decision followed a public hearing Wednesday night and comes on the heels of a recommendation from the Secondary School Merger Review Committee, which also stood unanimous in its opposition to the idea.

Recommendations for action on some of the merger report and proposal items will be presented at the April 10 School Committee meeting.

At the public hearing, more than a half-dozen residents spoke against the merger as Superintendent Christopher Farmer, who proposed the idea in January 2012 and has maintained his support for it, listened to their arguments. Triton’s middle and high schools are located next to one another on a sprawling campus in Byfield.

Marcia Mahoney of Byfield said when she first heard Farmer’s proposal, she thought he had valid reasons for recommending a merger and good ideas about the need for changes.

“But after reading the (review) committee’s report, it does not seem like the right time now, though I would like some of his ideas put into place,” she said.

Darlene Doucot of Rowley praised the merger committee for its “phenomenal work” with its research and urged the School Committee and administration to support the good steps in the report and find the right compromise.

“There is a balance here – find it and reach for it,” she said.

Triton High senior Matt Faulkner spoke on behalf of his fellow classmates, saying that the general consensus at the high school was students were against the idea,

“The research is clear and the consensus unanimous that it is not the right time to do this,” Faulkner said.

Merger review committee members Les Murray, a former Triton faculty member for 14 years and principal in Amesbury for 10 years, reiterated his statement in his group’s report that one principal is not better than two. The proposed merger would have had one principal leading the combined school.

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