Pentucket school district reviewing budget Tuesday | News

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WEST NEWBURY — The Pentucket Regional School Committee is expected  to review the operating budget for the next school year when it meets for a business meeting Tuesday night.

According to the district’s fiscal year 2023 budget narrative, the district is looking at a $49.9 million operating budget for the fiscal year that includes the 2022-23 academic school year. The fiscal year begins July 1, 2022, and ends June 30, 2023.

The proposed budget is up $3.1 million from last year’s $46.8 million allocation and represents a 6.65% increase.

Revenue, per the proposed budget, is projected at an estimated $48 million in local, state and excise and deficiency receipts, leaving an operational deficit of $1.8 million which will need to be closed before the district has a balanced budget.

Transportation costs are expected to rise by $583,676, (up $232,039 for standard transportation and $207,637 for special education transportation, while losing $144,000 in state regional transportation funding.)

Insurance costs, kindergarten enrollment, class sizes at secondary levels and clerical, custodial and paraeducator contracts remain unknown numbers in the budget.

Under the proposed FY 23 budget, the district is asking the three towns which comprise the Pentucket school district — West Newbury, Merrimac and Groveland — to increase their operational assessments by 3% to help fund next year’s school operating budget.

As such, Groveland would see an increase of $872,485, West Newbury would go up $753,725, and Merrimac would be assessed an extra $978,020.

Superintendent Justin Bartholomew wrote in the document’s introductory letter that the district has many gaps which need to be filled.

Bartholomew said Pentucket has been spending $848.22 less per pupil than the state average, and $1,172.12 less than the nearby Amesbury, Georgetown, Newburyport and Triton school districts.

The superintendent seeks an additional $220,000 for a two technology assistants to work with middle and high school students, a new technology repair employee, and a new director of human resources in the central office.

The district is also looking to: fill new classroom and special education teaching positions; hire a full-time athletic director to oversee both the high school and middle school; change the roles of three special education coordinators to administrators; bring new curriculum to the classrooms; and add two custodians. Exact numbers of these costs are not listed in the district’s Feb. 15 updated budget information form as of Feb. 25.

Pentucket business manager Greg LaBrecque and School Committee chair Dena Trotter were unavailable for comment.

The School Committee will meet in the cafeteria of the Pentucket Regional Middle School at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1.

Meanwhile, the district reported on Friday that construction of the new, $146.3 million Pentucket Regional Middle and High School building is roughly 70% complete and should meet the scheduled opening date for the start of the 2022-2023 school year. (See sidebar.)

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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