FY19 Budget Development: Important Update

Good Afternoon,

As everyone prepares to enjoy vacation week next week, I want to provide an update on the budget development process to ensure everyone is clear on what will happen from today through the final budget being in place by this coming summer. I apologize in advance for the lengthy email, but feel it is important the details are understood as there is still much work to be done! As I have repeatedly said as we traverse these challenging financial times, we need to be steadfast in our advocating with the state for needed, long term fixes to funding, but we have to arrive at a local solution this year without a quick fix likely from Beacon Hill. That local solution is going to be very challenging.

On Wednesday evening, February 14th, the School Committee approved an FY19 Tentative Budget, which is online at www.tritonschools.org/budget (click FY19 at right menu). This budget is the high water mark, in that the final budget can be lower but cannot be higher, and represents the highest possible spending plan as outlined by the “green budget” from previous discussions. However, we do not anticipate that this high mark can be supported in the final revision of the budget. The details driving budget figures continue to be clarified and refined on a daily basis. By March 14th I anticipate that the current increased assessment to Towns will be lower than the current Tentative figure of just over $3 million. The Committee can only vote one Final budget, and has 3 more meetings set to listen, deliberate, and decide on a final budget figure. Those include another public hearing on February 28th, a formal budget deliberation on March 7th, and a final vote on March 14th, all at 7:00 PM in the High School Library.

The School Committee met last evening with town officials from all three of our member towns, who confirmed they cannot fund the budget as is without a substantial override. Support for an override is mixed, but all agree that the passage of an override will be a considerable challenge, and require a very concerted and well planned effort by parents and community members.

I want to make it clear that the School Committee is not able to determine whether an override is to be attempted. The Committee’s purview is the establishment of a spending plan, and it is the job of the Selectmen, and ultimately the residents at Town Meeting that determine if that plan is what they want, and the method for funding the plan.  If you have questions about the budget, the School Committee and Administration can answer them. If you have questions about the need for, or ramifications of an override, those need to be addressed to the Boards of Selectmen.

With that said, the challenge will begin following the final vote of the School Committee on March 14th. The passage of the school budget requires the successful approval of 2 of our 3 member towns. As always, we strive to gain approval in all 3 to ensure we are united in supporting our schools. This year, with the likely addition of override votes as a further required action, we face a considerable uphill battle to even gain the required 2 approvals. With Annual Town Meetings set for April 24th in Newbury, April 30th in Rowley, and May 14th in Salisbury, and an election set for Tuesday, May 8th, we are not likely to have answers on approvals until May 8th at the earliest. If we learn that the budget is not approved, the School Committee would receive the budget back for reconsideration. That would occur within 30 days, and then be resubmitted to the member towns for approval at a second town meeting within the subsequent 45 days. If this process moves beyond July 1st (start of fiscal year) without an approved budget, the Commissioner can step in and set a 1/12th budget (1/12th of current budget, month to month until approval of new budget). This would be just as confusing, challenging, and detrimental as it sounds!

To be proactive, we will also produce a plan B at the March 14th final budget meeting to outline our thinking on how we would reduce spending should the larger figure not be supported by Annual Town Meetings and override votes. At that time, we will provide more detail than the current general projections of total staffing reductions discussed to date. Needless to say, without the final budget passing with successful overrides, the cuts would be significant. These discussions will continue in April and May to make sure we are ready to react immediately if we learn that the budget is not approved, and perhaps be ready prior to a 1/12th budget coming into play.

We are updating budget documents at the website listed above, on the News section, and through our Facebook and Twitter feeds. To note, there are two Facebook groups, including Support MA Regional Schools and Friends of Triton that have been started by private citizens and are strongly advocating for schools locally and at the state level. While we are appreciative of the advocacy, these are not official pages for the Triton School District.

As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions. I hope you all have a relaxing vacation.


Triton Alumni Youngest Competitors Ever in NESN Video Contest

Have you heard? Class of 2017 Triton alumni Emily and Hannah Reilly will be featured on this season of “NESN Next Producer.” The TV show features college film makers in the sports genre who compete for a cash award and a job offer from New England Sports Network. As part of the competition, they were asked to create a 3-4 minute video on anything related to sports. Their video, “One Last Putt” made it into the top 12 and they are now the youngest competitors to ever make it onto the show!

Now Emily and Hannah need your help! To go the next round and be eligible to win, their video will need to be voted into the top 3. Click here to view and vote for their video, then tune in to NESN on February 17th for the premier of the show! Let’s show our support for our fellow Vikings! Way to go Emily and Hannah!

Video: Protecting Teens from Rx Opioids

The Opioid Epidemic has risen to staggering levels in the United States, leaving many parents wondering how to protect their children. The MA Department of Public Health has put out the following video which serves as a great resource on how to decrease the chances of prescription drug addiction in our youth. By taking proactive measures such as these, we can help safeguard our children and ensure a brighter future for our communities. We urge you to take a few minutes to watch the video to see what you can do.

We Need Your Help!

We want to thank those of you who came out to the Forum on Regional Finance last Thursday with our state auditor, Suzanne Bump and our full legislative delegation. With over 150 in attendance, I also know there were many who wanted to attend but couldn’t, and some of you were were watching online. As a result of that discussion, many have asked what they can do to help! I apologize for the long email, but there’s important information below on ways you can help!

As a start, if you weren’t able to attend or watch, reviewing the video will give you a context of the challenges that we face. You can find the full video online at https://youtu.be/7dzM-eVJKdQ. The focus of the meeting was on regional schools specifically, although state wide challenges also arose. Most importantly, there was a focus on not pitting schools against towns with limited resources, and calling for the state to live up to their funding promises. This following statistic tells it all. From 2002 to 2017, a 15 year period, the state’s share of our total revenues fell from 34% to 22%. Where the state used to pay for a third of our budget, they now pay less than a quarter of it, and the balance is being paid for by our member towns. This has become untenable for our member towns.

Secondly, we need your voice and action. Through the forum last week, as well as information reviewed at the School Committee Workshop this past Saturday morning, it has become clear that we are looking at cost increases that are higher than usual, and state revenues that will barely increase to help offset the impact to our towns if not increased over the Governor’s numbers. The state’s funding formula (Chapter 70) is broken and doesn’t work for regional schools, and the state has never fulfilled its promise of paying for regional transportation. Regional transportation alone is a loss of over $300,000 annually for the Triton Schools. The state’s failure to adequately fund education is coming to a crisis point, and we are looking at potential cuts across all areas, all grade levels and all programs for next year; cuts to a degree we haven’t seen in decades. 

So how can lend your voice and effort?

  • First – Attend the tentative budget public hearing on Wednesday, February 7th at 7:00 PM. This is an additional hearing, and earlier than usual, but we believe it is important to share the severity of the shortfall in this year’s budget and the potential impacts. The meeting on the February 7th will provide an overview of the current budget projections, its impacts, and then provide an opportunity for all members of our community to provide comment.
  • Second – Write letters to our state legislators. As mentioned by our legislative delegation last Thursday, thirty (30) emails or letters on a single subject is a deluge in their offices. We can easily exceed that 10 fold and ensure our legislators know that we demand more as a regional school. That is how change happens. Attached you will find two letter templates, and two contact lists. The first letter is intended for our five local legislators who attended last week’s forum, and the second is geared towards the Regional Schools Caucus, which includes 41 senators and representatives from across the state. You can certainly adjust and edit the letter as you see fit, but sending letters or emails will make it known that we’re paying attention, and we need and expect their help for necessary change.

Please find the two template letters in Word format, and a contact list linked below. You can send via email, or via formal letter, but the contact list shows all 41 members of the Regional Schools Caucus, and then our five (5) legislators highlighted in yellow. 

  • Third – Consider signing a petition, or starting one locally. This is NOT a substitution for writing to our legislators, but a campaign has been created by groups from the Wachusett and Ashburnham/Westminster regional schools districts on Change.org. The focus, similar to the draft template letters referenced above, is on the state backing away from their promise to fully fund regional transportation. The hope is to show the magnitude of the issue, and support for a remedy, across the entire state. You can find the petition at http://bit.ly/2DKQJc2. If you are interested in starting a more local effort in this regard, please contact Dina Sullivan at the email below and she’ll be able to help make connections with those behind the Wachusett effort.

Thank you for your attention and support. If you have any questions about the above information, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Otherwise, we look forward to seeing you on Wednesday, February 7th at 7:00 PM in the Triton High School Library.


Dina and Brian

Dina Sullivan
School Committee Chair

Brian L. Forget
Superintendent of Schools

Download (PDF, 105KB)


Download (DOCX, 16KB)

Download (DOCX, 16KB)

Triton Sends Students to DECA State Finals

Triton Regional High School brought 45 students to the DECA DISTRICT competition at Endicott College on January 8th.

DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) is a Entrepreneur and Leadership training program that holds competitions at Local, State, and National Levels throughout the country. Students create business and marketing plans, deliver professional presentations, and role-play interview and managerial situations with local business volunteers. DECA students receive recognition and are eligible for scholarship awards from colleges around the Country.

We are happy to announce the students who will be moving on to the STATE FINALS in BOSTON-March 8th – 10th!


Mitchell Hopkinson
Sarah Harrington


Franklin Cohen
Thomas Marshal
Sydney Johnson
Drew Bouley
Brad Killion
Jack Niska


Jack Taylor
Linda Freeman
Colin Dennis
Farrah Gabrian
Grace Poster


Jack Tumino
Joe Doucot
Juliet Sparks
Kate Taylor
Kolton Brown
Sophie Desimone
Rachel Lees


Triton named to College Board’s AP Honor Roll

We are pleased to report that Triton is one of 447 school districts in the U.S. and Canada being honored by the College Board with placement on the 8th Annual AP® District Honor Roll. To be included on the 8th Annual Honor Roll, Triton Regional High School had to, since 2015, increase the number of students participating in AP while also increasing or maintaining the percentage of students earning AP Exam scores of 3 or higher. Reaching these goals shows that our educators are successfully identifying motivated, academically prepared students who are ready for Advanced Placement work, and guiding them through a rigorous and effective course of studies. I am so appreciative to all those involved in making this a reality, as it only means great things for our students and their success.

The complete 8th Annual AP District Honor Roll can be found online at https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/score-reports-data/awards/honor-roll

Save the Date – January 25, 2018!

Please save the date and time of Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 6:30 PM.

On October 18, 2017 the Massachusetts State Auditor Suzanne Bump issued a report titled “Supporting Student and Community Success: Updating the Structure and Finance of Massachusetts Regional School Districts.” (click to read). The report documents the unique challenges faced by regional schools and their member towns, issues that we have been discussing for many years. While the State Auditor is able to identify and codify the challenges and problems in the funding formula, it is our State Senators and Representatives that are able to enact change that will improve our funding situation.

To that end, we extended an invitation to State Auditor Suzanne Bump as well as our five (5) state legislators that represent the Triton Region School District, to participate in a public discussion on the issues identifed. I am pleased to report that we have confirmed the attendance of Auditor Bump and three of our five State Legislators at this time, with the other two working to attend. This discussion will take place on Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 6:30 PM in the high school auditorium. More information will follow after the new year, but I wanted to make sure this date is on calendars so that we can have a strong turn out from our entire community in support of much needed changes in state funding for our member towns and schools.



High School Students Participate in Wind Energy Project

Exciting things are happening at Triton! This year, the Applied Mathematics students are participating in a Project Based Learning experience related to designing, building, and testing home built wind generators.  Their math lessons are designed around wind energy, and cover topics including measuring techniques, unit conversions, rotational equilibrium, torque, wind pressure, force, volume, mass, density, and electricity.  Students use Google Sheets to mathematically model speed/torque data collected from lab activities, and then use integration to determine which blade design has more power.  Designs are modeled in 3D using AutoDesk Inventor or SolidWorks, and some complex parts are 3D printed. Students will rework ceiling fan motors into generators, and connect these to their blade assemblies with the goal of charging 12V batteries which will power DC devices such as cell phones, LED lights, etc.. Students will visit the UMASS Lowell Wind Energy Center in the spring where they may learn more about wind energy by speaking with students and their professors.


Exciting News! Triton Takes Local Fresh Fish to School

Exciting News!  Triton Takes Local Fresh Fish to School


Triton Regional School District will be offering fresh wild fish (Sole and Salmon) that is part of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC – a non-profit organization that promotes responsible fishing practices and ensures certified sustainable seafood to consumers), as well as, Red Fish from GMRI’s Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested® program. This means 2,800+ students residing in the Triton Regional School District (Salisbury, Newbury, Byfield, and Rowley, Massachusetts) will have the opportunity to eat responsibly harvested seafood that is traceable.

The program will kick-off on Thursday December 14, 2017 by serving “New England Baked Sole” {fresh baked sole with a Ritz cracker crumb topping} to the middle and high school students.

“Serving fresh locally harvested fish is a win-win-win scenario,” said Lucinda Ward, MEd, RD, SNS, and Director of Food Services for Triton.  “We’re supporting our regional food economy and we’re getting a healthy, local food to serve to our students.” Sourcing locally is often the best way to serve fresh, nutritious food that is affordable – an objective of the school’s Food Service Program.  Bon Appétit!

New Program Initiated around 40 Developmental Assets Approach

I apologize for the length of this message, but it contains very important details about a new effort underway. I am writing with information regarding a newly formed regional partnership aimed at strengthening the likelihood of success for our students in school and as members of the community. This regional effort, the Essex County Asset Builder Network, is being funded by the Tower Foundation. The focus is on proactive measures to equip our youth to make positive choices, rather than being reactive following an unfortunate event. The effort is framed around The 40 Development Assets Approach by the Search Institute, and you can read more about it by clicking here.

Research has identified 40 developmental assets comprised of skills, relationships and behaviors that enable youth to be successful as adults. While the assets build youth self-esteem and competence, the framework also emphasizes the importance of building community supports to help youth thrive. Recently, the communities of Amesbury, Georgetown, Newbury, Rowley, Salisbury and Newburyport have partnered together to form the Essex County Asset Builder Network and have received a grant to use a common language of asset development (creating protective factors) that will enhance the great work already being done to support youth and families, and expand community supports, opportunities, and resources. Tina Los is the Regional Project Coordinator for this work.

This fall, all communities in the partnership will be administering the Attitudes and Behaviors Survey which anonymously measures youth assets and risk behaviors with students grades 6 – 12. This data will help create a global picture of strengths and needs of our students and to help us understand how we can best support them to be successful in the future. This survey is being conducted as part of a larger regional partnership bringing the communities of Amesbury, Georgetown, Newbury, Newburyport, Rowley, and Salisbury together to prevent and reduce health risk behaviors among youth. The data will only be reported on a global basis by school, as there won’t be any personal  identifying information included.

We will be administering this voluntary student survey in mid November to all students in grades 6 through 12, with the exact date varying by school. This survey will be administered by your child’s teachers, be taken online, completed anonymously, and will take approximately 30 minutes to complete. As a parent, your child’s school will be sending a form to officially opt out of the survey. However, students will also be instructed that they can opt out on the day of the survey, or they can skip any questions they don’t want to answer if they do participate. This will be made very clear by the teacher when administering the survey. As this is global data, the more responses we receive, the more information we’ll have to know where best to target our prevention efforts.

There will be an information session for parents/guardians at each school. Tina Los will be present, and able to answer questions about the 40 Developmental Assets, as well as the survey itself. While we can’t send home copies of the survey, we will have them available to review at the schools and also during these information sessions.

Parent Information Sessions:

  • Middle/High School: Wednesday, October 25th @ 5:30 PM
  • Newbury Elementary School: November 16th @ 6:30 PM
  • Pine Grove School: November 7th @ 6:00 PM
  • Salisbury Elementary School: November 14th @ 5:30 PM

I would encourage you to attend the parent information session if you have questions about the 40 Assets or the survey specifically. You can also reach out directly to Tina Los at TLos@cityofnewburyport.com or by phone at (978) 992-1671.

Thank you, and I look forward to partnering with you and our community at large on behalf of our children!

Brian Forget