Triton’s Budget: What is it?

Next year, video production classes are hoping to gain the funding to purchase streaming equipment to broadcast live sports games.

The Triton School Committee discussing budget at a meeting in 2022. (VTV Photo)

The Triton School Committee discussing budget at a meeting in 2022. (VTV Photo)

As the new year comes, so does a new budget plan. 

A budget is a general spending plan that schools use to manage their money.  A school budget plan is initially used to moderate what they have to spend and where they are going to spend it. 

“To start, we look at our previous years’ spending and the categories that we are spending in,” Principal Patrick Kelley of Triton High School said. 

A new budget plan is then created for each year with modified proposals, some old and some new, as well as  needs. It’s used to more specifically  gauge how much each academic department costs and how much the school is going to spend per year. This plan includes revenues, which is how the money is generated, and expenditures, which is how the money is spent . Triton’s overall budget is $35,795,858. This budget consists of a spending plan that determines where certain amounts of money are going. That plan was created by breaking down the original budget request that all academic and other departments build. The overall budget request presents what the different departments within the school need. 

Essentially, to create the plan, teachers gather within their departments and settle on what they have, need, and want. All of those variables are compiled together to create a list. That list is then presented to Kelley by the heads of each department. Kelley will then go through it with each department head, approving or narrowing down what they proposed. The school council then holds a discussion centered on the budget for the year to come. The council, made up of teachers, students, Kelley, and parents, get together and propose items that may align to the school improvement plan. Kelley goes on to take all of this reconciled information to the school committee. When he does this, Kelley said that it is important to balance the wants with the needs as well as what Triton already has, and what they require. 

The presentation of the budget to the school committee happens in January over a course of three days. It takes the committee to the middle of the month to come up with the new spending plan. In February, the budget gets proposed again, as well as in March which is when the final plan is made up and finalized. By late March, the budget is to be formally approved by the district treasurer and the member towns (Newbury, Rowley, Salisbury). By late April to early May, the budget is proposed in town meetings to be firmly approved by residents. 

When asked what new things were being proposed this year, Kelley mentioned adding a formal health class to Triton High School’s curriculum. To do this, a health teacher would need to be hired. Triton also would like to keep the hall monitor that they hired for the 2022-2023 school year in place as well. Having hired a hall monitor earlier on in the year, he has become a great addition to the Triton Staff community. Kelley also mentioned a request that the language department made for microphones in the classes so that they can hear the students’ speech clearer. This would help with hearing pronunciation errors and ultimately how well a student can speak said language with better access to what they’re saying amongst the class. 

Thomas Horsley, the head of the science department, talked about his department being costly because of what they need each year. 

“Our department has a high amount of consumables,” Horsley said. “What we buy is determined by how many students are in each class. Once we have a number, then we can go ahead and say how many cats and dogs Dr. Moore needs for her classes and how many squids I need for mine.” 

Horsley said he needs to make sure that every teacher has what they need to teach their classes. Once that is listed, the department focuses on what they could have to make classes run smoother. The Science teachers have also been working on new course ideas as electives. These courses would require hiring new teachers, possibly new equipment, and new funding. Dr. Ellen Moore, an anatomy and physiology teacher, needs new textbooks for her classes. Horsley said  each textbook costs roughly $150, which brings a great sum to the table. Horsley continued to say how getting Moore’s classes new books was a top priority. 

Sue Densmore, the head of the arts department at Triton High School, said her department requires a lot of new equipment each year. 

“Looking at the numbers,” Densmore says, “arts looks like it spends more but it’s actually because we have to buy a lot of new things every year.” 

To be able to maintain each instrument that the arts department possesses, it costs money. So does the restocking of clay, paper, and other essentials for the art classes themselves. A few essential items the arts department proposed for his year’s budget happened to be a clay recycler for art classes and streaming equipment for the TV production classes. The clay recycler would allow art teachers to recycle their leftover clay and essentially have more to use in the long run. This addition would save the school and the department itself some money. The streaming equipment was asked for so that sports games could be livestreamed to the public. That proposal itself is $25,000.

“We’re spending..” Superintendent of the Triton District, Brian Forge, says, stating his own personal opinion, “..over thirty-seven million dollars.”

The Triton District gets nearly all of its revenue from the residents of the member towns while a small portion is paid by the state. Forget said that the large amount of the budget is paid through the tax base. 

“Eighty percent of our budget is paid by the member towns,” Forget said. “The rest is covered by the state.”