NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 22, 2013

Thumbs down for Triton merger

Panel unanimously opposes combined high, middle school

BYFIELD – After more than a year of study, a proposed merger of the Triton Regional High and Middle schools has received a resounding no from the 16-member Secondary Merger Review Committee

The cross-sectional group comprised of Triton parents, school staff, student representatives and town officials voted unanimously against moving forward with a merger.

Details of the merger review committee’s research and reasons for its decision were presented to the Triton Regional School Committee last week. The public is invited to comment on the committee’s findings and recommendation during the school board’s April 3 meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. in the Triton High library.

The merger review committee was charged in January 2012 with reviewing a proposal by Superintendent Christopher Farmer to merge the middle and high schools, which now share one campus in Byfield, into a single, coherent unit. The committee was to assess whether such a merger would improve the continuity of the curriculum, teaching and learning, and student support across grades 7 through 12, thus improving overall student learning and development.

Additionally, the committee was to raise key issues that would need to be addressed and report on any significant cost implications that would result in a merger.

The committee’s final report, available online at www.trsd.net, illustrates a unanimous lack of support for the merger based in part on student achievement data and dropout rates reviewed by the group. The statistics showed current student achievement scores at Triton to be good and dropout rates to be low compared to similar districts in Massachusetts.

The report reads, “If there was not an alarming academic problem, there was no need to move to a change considered extensive and potentially disruptive.” The group agreed that while many issues raised by the superintendent were worthy of further review in a more sustained and systemic manner over time, those matters could be successfully addressed, pending funding, without a merger of the two schools.

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