SALISBURY — Selectmen voted Monday night not to place an article on that Fall Town Meeting warrant to exempt Triton School District from state rules governing how regional school committees are composed and members elected.
Selectmen turned down the request made by Newbury selectmen to ask state legislators to file a bill for a special act allowing Triton towns to alter the make-up of its regional School Committee.
Newbury wanted Triton exempted from regulations requiring regional school boards' make-up to be weighted according to community population if voters in each town only voted for those school committee members representing their own town. All three Triton towns — Salisbury, Rowley and Newbury — would have had to place the same article on fall warrants, with all town meetings approving the request, for the process to move forward.
Presently, Triton has a nine-member School Committee, with three members from each town, and voters in all towns vote to elect candidates, no matter where they're from.
Should that change as Newbury's proposed warrant article suggested, voters from each town in 2011 would only vote to elect their own representatives.
However, according to state regulations regarding regional school systems, each committee member's vote would then need to be weighted according to their town's population. For example, a board member from Salisbury, which has the largest population, may get a vote worth 1.2, while a Rowley board member, with the smallest population, would get a vote worth .8.
The other option would be for Salisbury to have more representatives on the School Committee than Rowley or Newbury.
Selectmen saw no reason to change the current method of election, believing that with voters electing all nine committee members, it is a truly united school committee with its members answerable to all the region's voters.
The request to change the way voting is done was raised in June by Newbury Selectman Vincent Russo. It came to the forefront shortly after Salisbury's Dale Knowles resigned from the School Committee for health reasons, after having served a short time. Russo said at the time her situation did not influence his actions, but that he'd wanted to make the change for some time.
Knowles' competitor Linda Litcofsky was appointed to fill her seat. Although Litcofsky was the voters' choice in Salisbury by more than 100 votes, voters in Rowley and Newbury gave Knowles the win, 873-767.
Shortly after Knowles' resignation, Russo told fellow selectmen and Newbury Triton School Committee member Dina Sullivan he wanted to end the practice of having voters in Newbury, Rowley and Salisbury cast ballots for school representatives from all three towns. Instead, each town should elect its own committee members, since voters know their own candidates best, he said.
That change can occur if all three communities agree to amend the tri-town Triton School District Regional Agreement, but it will change things in a manner that does not favor Newbury or Rowley, if state law is followed.
Discussing this issue at their July meeting, Newbury selectmen voted to send their proposal for the special exemption warrant question to their fellow selectmen in Rowley and Salisbury to see if they'd approve placing the issue on the warrant, said Newbury Town Administrator Charles Kostro. Newbury has not yet voted to place the question on the ballot, he said.
The proposal was discussed by Rowley selectmen at their meeting last week, but no formal vote was taken.