Up-Island school committee seeks change in high school representation

The UIRSD school committee’s Monday night meeting included lengthy discussions about changing the committee’s representation on the high school committee, revising a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on school bus liability, and how high school class levels are determined for graduating eighth-graders.

The committee voted unanimously to request a change in the regional high school district’s articles of agreement to allow their members the option of passing the duty of serving on the high school committee on to another member. As it currently stands, UIRSD school committee members with the highest number of votes from their towns must also sit on the high school committee. A change would ultimately require a vote by all six towns.

The committee discussed a change in a bus transportation MOU rejected by the high school and down-Island school committees because of cost concerns. As it stands now, the UIRSD bears the responsibility of insurance deductibles. The MOU stated the district would not be held responsible for the cost in the event that students from Edgartown, Tisbury, and West Tisbury were injured in an accident while riding on a UIRSD-owned bus. The cost would be passed on to their towns of residence.

Chairman Jeffrey Manter proposed instead that the UIRSD give its buses to the high school, so that all costs would be divided among all the towns. Mr. Weiss said he would return to the next meeting with simple language in the agreement to address the deductible issue, and information on how the bus transfer to the high school might be done.

In response to a request from committee member Michael Marcus, assistant superintendent Matt D’Andrea explained how placement in the high school’s advanced and honors courses is determined for eighth-graders. “The question is around how much MCAS is used in that process,” he said. “It is not.”

Eighth-grade teachers recommend a student’s high school class level placement for each subject area based on several factors, he said. Students and parents can appeal a decision through the high school guidance office.