Up-Island regional school committee okays $9.19 million budget

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The Up-Island Regional School District (UIRSD) committee voted 4-1 to certify the bottom line of a fiscal year 2014 (FY14) budget at $9,194,349, down $146,000, or 1.56 percent, from FY13. Jeffrey “Skipper” Manter of West Tisbury voted no.

Several budget items are likely to change, due to contract negotiations that are underway with the Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools’ five bargaining units.

The final draft budget approved Monday night had a few changes from the previous version. The school committee agreed to add $100,000 towards funding some of the school district’s liability for Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) and $100,000 for repairs to the Chilmark School. The committee also agreed to certify the budget using the district’s regional assessment method rather than the state-mandated formula.

Under the regional agreement’s terms for the district’s member towns, Aquinnah, Chilmark and West Tisbury, the budget is divided into four parts. Those include the superintendent’s office/shared services costs, school committee (district) costs, separate site operating budgets for Chilmark School and West Tisbury School, and building debt.

Most of the line items showed little change from FY13. The superintendent’s office and shared services FY14 budget, however, increased by $58,816, a 7 percent rise, mostly due to additional funds needed for increased Special Education services.

The number of students enrolled from Aquinnah has increased this year from 23 to 30, a 30 percent increase, and Chilmark from 59 to 67, a 14 percent increase. West Tisbury’s enrollment has decreased from 192 to 179, a seven percent decrease, leaving Aquinnah and Chilmark with a higher percentage of the district budget to pay.

Aquinnah’s assessment is up 33.18 percent, an increase of $245,239, and Chilmark’s up by 15.48 percent, an increase of $308,718. West Tisbury’s assessment is down by $245,349, a 4.09 percent decrease.

Chilmark School’s FY14 proposed operating budget is $1.125 million, a decrease of 2.6 percent from FY13, and West Tisbury School’s is $5.51 million, a decrease of .5 percent. Chilmark and West Tisbury each pay 80 percent of the building debt for their town’s schools.

The UIRSD pays for its own transportation and for health insurance, which is not included in other Island school district budgets. Medical insurance line items in the FY14 budget reflect a decrease of more than $57,000, due to the state mandated changes in health care coverage, according to Martha Vineyard Public Schools business administrator Amy Tierney.