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TOWNSEND — The proposed school district budget for next year comes in at $48.6 million, a 5.81 percent increase over the past year.

The fiscal 2016 budget is the result of ongoing, difficult conversations about priorities, said Superintendent Joan Landers during a budget hearing for the North Middlesex Regional School District on Monday.

The process began in September when district goals were established, she said. Budget leaders were asked for their budgets in November and meetings were held in January with those leaders and district staff.

What this budget will cost the member towns is unknown.

The governor’s budget is not due until March 4, Landers said. The School Committee is scheduled to vote on the budget on March 9.

The foundation budget and target share formula, which help determine the cost for the local communities, will be released in the governor’s budget, said Business Administrator Nancy Haines.

The formulas are based on property values and income to determine the town’s contribution. Any additional amount over the town’s contributions and Chapter 70 state aid are split between the communities based on enrollment.

There have been different formulas used over the past few years, Haines said.

Because the governor’s budget is not yet released, state aid numbers are not firm. The district and the towns are both waiting for those numbers to firm up budgets for next year, Landers said.

The Chapter 70 aid should remain about level, Haines said, but Chapter 71, aid for regional transportation, will decrease. The district now provides actual data about the number of students living more than 1.5 miles from their schools.

Under the current proposed budget, the projection shows that towns will be on the hook for $27 million. State aid will be $20.7 million and an additional $948,000 will come from district revenues such as reserves, school choice money and Medicaid reimbursement.

“I think this is a fiscally responsible budget,” Landers said. It meets the needs of the students.

“We continue to work with our communities,” she said. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education commented on the positive relationship between the district and the towns.

“We need the police, the fire and we need everyone to work together to serve our students,” she said.

She and Haines are looking at scenarios to decrease the budget without reducing services to the students, the superintendent said. “It’s a fine line.”

Follow Anne O’Connor on Twitter and Tout @a1oconnor.