By Michelle Pelletier Marshall
---- — BYFIELD — The Triton Regional School Committee is awaiting Town Meeting approval in the district towns — Newbury, Rowley and Salisbury — of the assessments associated with the $35.7 million fiscal year 2014 level services budget, which was approved last month.
The final budget calls for an increase of only .62 percent, down from the tentative budget increase of 1.74 percent, due to considerable savings on utilities, special education costs and close to $500,000 in savings on medical insurance premiums. These savings also will provide for the continuation of support for lower class sizes, effective literacy instruction and appropriate intervention for struggling learners, as well as a slight increase in staffing and some services.
Assistant Superintendent Brian Forget further explained the savings details, which include a $130,000 savings in electricity, $40,000 in natural gas, $90,000 from route consolidation and reduction in homeless transportation, and $190,000 in special education out-of-district tuitions.
“This is a budget year that we likely won’t be able to repeat in the near future,” he said, noting that the district’s $800,000 personnel increases were nearly erased due to the above savings, including the half a million dollar savings in medical insurance premiums.
“A lot of good people worked hard to ensure these savings, but there is also a student factor that could change quite quickly in relation to placements, transportation and special education costs for subsequent budgets, not to mention increasing costs in utilities, which are most routinely out of our control.”
Past budgets have seen increases at about 2 percent, with town assessment increases up to 4 percent. The fiscal year 2013 budget, at $35.4 million, increased by nearly $750,000; and the 2012 tentative budget, which called for overrides in both Newbury and Rowley, sent Triton Regional School administrators back to the drawing board to re-evaluate the budget because the overrides failed.
Under the fiscal year 2014 budget, town assessments will increase an average of .58 percent and account for $25,999,269 of the $35,701,725 operating budget. Assessments are $8,568,972 for Newbury, $7,947,188 for Rowley and $9,483,109 for Salisbury. Forget said the district has received notification that the towns will be including the assessment amounts on the town warrants as presented and don’t foresee any issues at this point.
The budget needs to pass at Town Meeting, which will occur in April and early May in all three towns, in two of the three towns to be approved.
The budget assumes a $185,445 increase in the state’s Chapter 70 contribution, though confirmation on that amount won’t be known until June, at which time the budget will be finalized. Complete budget details can be found at www.trsd.net/budget.