Gil Traverso, the new principal of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS), conducted his first budget public hearing on Monday night at the Performing Arts Center. The high school’s $18,589,692 fiscal year 2016 (FY16) budget includes an increase of $43,443, or .23 percent, over FY15. Mr. Traverso noted that the .23 percent increase in operating expenses amounts to about $63 per student, based on an enrollment of 686.
Despite the minor increase, town assessments are expected to rise by 5 percent to make up for a drop of $726,020 in state aid next year, Mr. Traverso said.
He began his presentation by highlighting the high school’s many positives, including a low drop-out rate and high graduation rate, high performance on MCAS and advanced placement testing, a wide range of courses and career technical education, and an array of 36 clubs and activities. He livened up his Power-Point presentation with video clips of students, present and past, who praised the high school’s supportive environment and wealth of resources and programs.
In looking at areas to improve, Mr. Traverso noted that a high percentage of students participate in the high school’s vocational education program. As a percentage of the student body, enrollment drops off significantly after grades 9 and 10, he said.
“I’m certain it’s the way we’re delivering instruction, and what type of instruction and services we’re providing to the students,” he said. “I don’t think it’s where it needs to be, and we really are going to be focusing on improving that area.”
Mr. Traverso said the school also needs to improve its attendance rate, which was 93.9 percent for the 2013-14 school year. He noted that attendance impacts the school’s MCAS participation rate, which at 94 percent last year was a factor in the school’s drop from a level one to a level two school.
About 20 people attended the hour-long presentation, including a few parents, superintendent of schools James Weiss and central office administrators, school committee members, and high school administrators and faculty.
Mr. Traverso thanked all of the Island school committee members for their hard work, and long-serving former members Roxanne Ackerman and Dan Cabot for their years of commitment and dedication. He also thanked the Island towns for picking up the slack as revenues dropped and their assessments increased.
The MVRHS school committee will meet at 7 pm on Monday, December 1, to discuss and vote on the budget’s certification.