Bucking Island trend, Oak Bluffs says yes to new school administration building

The vote is essentially symbolic vote after three towns rejected a similar request.

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Michael Cummo

In what was essentially a symbolic vote, Oak Bluffs voters endorsed a request to chip in for a new administration building for the Martha’s Vineyard public schools at a special town meeting at the Oak Bluffs school on Thursday night.

Chilmark, Tisbury and West Tisbury rejected the request at their annual town meetings, which legally made the vote irrelevant. The article required a yes vote from all six Island towns.

In the lead up to the special town meeting, the Regional School District Committee and the Oak Bluffs Financial and Advisory Committee (FinCom) endorsed the town’s participation in a 20-year bond needed to pay an estimated $3.9 million price tag.

Oak Bluffs selectman Greg Coogan said he thought the presentation by assistant superintendent and soon to be superintendent Matt D’Andrea, that showed the cramped, decaying condition of the current administration building made a big impression on the attendees. “I would have been surprised at the outcome before the meeting, but the presentation made all the difference,”  he told The Times Friday morning. “I’m sure next year they’ll come back with a pitch that shows more people what the needs are.”

“We were very pleased that the Oak Bluffs voters almost unanimously approved the article,” outgoing superintendent James Weiss told The Times Friday. “Although it doesn’t have any impact legally, emotionally and politically it was a very positive outcome.”

Mr. Weiss said that the presentation was quickly developed after the article was rejected at the first two town meetings. “It was the first time we made the presentation,” he said. “Once they see the conditions of the current administration building, people really understand the need for a new one.”

The current administration building is a former church built over 90 years ago, across from the Tisbury school.

A total of 55 voters attended the meeting, five more than required for a quorum.

The article was not on the Oak Bluffs annual town meeting warrant because of an administrative disconnect between the school administration office and town hall.