BYFIELD — The Triton Regional School Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a tentative $44.5 million operating budget for the next school year.

The proposal is 4.8% higher than the current budget of $42.4 million. The towns in the Triton Regional School District are Newbury, Rowley and Salisbury. 

Superintendent Brian Forget said the $44.5 million is a “high-water” number.

The committee will hold a public hearing on the tentative budget Feb. 26 at Triton Regional High School. The committee is also expected to hold additional deliberations on the budget March 4 before taking a final vote March 11.

The school district has 2,290 students attending its elementary schools with 657 going to Newbury Elementary School (28.69% of its enrollment), 732 students attending Pine Grove School in Rowley (31.97% of enrollment) and 901 students attending Salisbury Elementary School (39.34% of enrollment.)

Under the committee’s tentative budget, Newbury would see an assessment of $9.9 million for the coming school year – up 5.58% from the previous budget.

Rowley would be assessed $11 million under the tentative school budget, which is up 4.64%, and Salisbury is scheduled to pay an additional 7.43% with an assessment of $13.5 million.

“This is the second year that the (state education funding) formula is dictating a much larger increase to Salisbury than their percentage would otherwise dictate,” Forget said. “They are approaching 40% of the district. They are paying for close to 50% of the total assessment.”

The tentative budget accounts for an increase in spending of $2 million that includes an additional $155,274 for special education transportation; $197,392 for a 7.6% increase in medical insurance benefits; $168,055 in increased pension payments; $141,240 to pay for a 9.8% increase in transportation rates; $75,000 for the first year of a three-year phase in of full-day kindergarten; $25,000 for new athletic uniforms; and $20,000 to eliminate student parking fees at the high school.

The district will save $90,700 with the retirement of a sixth-grade teacher at Salisbury Elementary under the committee’s proposed budget and $15,000 in unemployment insurance costs. An assumed 75% reimbursement in state special education circuit breaker reimbursement funding could also save the district $234,597.

But the tentative budget also asks to restore a full-time special education teacher at the middle school at $81,533, as well as $57,957 to restore part-time custodians in each of the district’s three elementary schools.

The tentative budget: www.tritonschools.org/district/triton-district-budget/fy-2021-budget/#tab-id-4.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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