Unresolved contracts thwart high school budget conclusion

Final numbers for the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) fiscal 2012 (FY12) operating budget remain uncertain because of ongoing contract negotiations with secretaries, para-professionals, and custodians.

Principal Steven Nixon presented a third draft budget to the school committee’s budget subcommittee meeting last week. The revised budget included $16.60 million in total operating expenses, a one-percent increase over $16.44 million in FY11, and $4.98 million in total fixed costs, a 1.93-percent increase over $4.88 million last year.

Due to a drop in revenues and reimbursements from the state, Island towns will pay total assessed expenses estimated at $13.17 million in FY12, an increase of about 1.72 percent over $12.96 million in FY11.

“Basically we’re saying that the spending portion, the portion we have control of, remains level-funded, but not salaries or contracts,” superintendent of schools James Weiss said. The FY12 budget includes a two-percent wage increase for teachers, under the terms of a three-year union contract they signed in September, but no increase for secretaries, para-professionals, and custodians in the absence of contracts.

Unless union contracts for them are ratified before the budget’s certification in December, Mr. Weiss said Island towns would have to be prepared for the possibility of additional costs.

The budget subcommittee will hold a final meeting at 8 am on November 17 in the high school library conference room, before a public hearing on the budget on November 29.