West Tisbury School principal search yields seven candidates


Interviews for the West Tisbury School principal’s job may begin as early as next week, superintendent of schools James Weiss told the Up-Island Regional School District (UIRSD) school committee Monday night. Seven candidates have applied for the job, four from Martha’s Vineyard and three from off Island.

West Tisbury School principal Michael Halt announced on May 22 that he had accepted a job as the principal at San Clemente High School in California. A few days later Mr. Weiss recommended to the UIRSD school committee that a search should be conducted right away. The school committee agreed, and he began advertising the position the last week in May.

At Monday’s regularly scheduled school committee meeting, Mr. Weiss said he put a search committee together, with approval from school committee chairman Jeffrey “Skipper” Manter. Although he is waiting to confirm a committee member from the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), Mr. Weiss said the plan is for the committee to meet tonight, and if all of the members are in place by next week, to start interviews.

“I believe there are at least three qualified applicants; the committee may decide otherwise,” Mr. Weiss said.

He explained that the committee he selected includes a representation of the school district’s various communities, the school committee, school staff, and parents. At least 20 parents came forward to volunteer, Mr. Weiss said.

The search committee members include UIRSD school committee members Dan Cabot of West Tisbury and Robert Lionette of Chilmark; NAACP representative Elaine Weintraub; West Tisbury School counselor Molly Cabral, West Tisbury School teacher Rebecca Solway; head of Chilmark School Susan Stevens, and a representative from the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah). Assistant district attorney Laura Marshard and West Tisbury School Advisory Committee member Jill Napier are the parent representatives.

In a financial report, school business administrator Amy Tierney said that the UIRSD budget is in a good position for the year’s end, with a few deficits. At her recommendation the school committee approved budget transfers totaling $82,032 from accounts with money left over in them to accounts with deficits.

Ms. Tierney said the district’s new lunch program implemented last September, operating at West Tisbury School and also serving the Chilmark School, ended on a positive note. Since the cost of the new program was an unknown, the school committee budgeted for a planned deficit of $75,000. Ms. Tierney said she anticipates a deficit of about $70,000.

The school committee also approved end of year transfers from excess and deficiency funds of $176,726 to cover additional expenses for SPED services and videography from fiscal year 2014 funds and Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) and West Tisbury School exterior renovations from fiscal year 2013 funds.

The committee also had an extensive discussion about Mr. Weiss as part of a mid-year evaluation required by the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s new educator evaluation system. The purpose was to determine whether more information or documentation is needed by the end of the calendar year to rate Mr. Weiss on achieving goals he set.