To the Editor:
On Wednesday, Jan. 18, the West Tisbury selectmen received the final report of the committee those selectmen created to develop a new allocation formula for the Up-Island Regional School District (UIRSD). I am writing as a member of that committee, not on behalf of that committee. These are my own, personal thoughts. And as such I am urging the selectmen of West Tisbury to approve this new allocation formula and take the steps necessary to seek its adoption by the Up-Island Regional School District.
Perhaps since the day the UIRSD was created, decades ago, the taxpayers of West Tisbury have believed that they were unduly burdened by the costs of the district. At issue has always been the expense of operating two schools (Chilmark School and the West Tisbury School), when the West Tisbury School is underutilized and could easily accommodate each and every child residing in the district.
A study the selectmen commissioned in 2006, conducted by off-Island consultants, concluded that the taxpayers of the district would save $900,000 if only one school, in West Tisbury, was operated.
The new allocation formula that the selectmen now have before them has three steps:
- Establish the cost of operating the Chilmark School (operating, principal/interest, and short-term borrowing).
- Assess these costs to the taxpayers of Chilmark.
- Determine the cost of operating the West Tisbury School based on the number of students who reside in the district and attend district schools. Allocate this cost among taxpayers based on each town’s student attendance in the district.
Using this allocation formula, based on the projected FY 2018 district budget, West Tisbury’s budget allocation would be reduced by $721,123, Aquinnah’s budget allocation would be reduced by $154,281, and the Chilmark budget allocation would increase by $875,405.
This allocation formula honors the desire of Chilmark taxpayers to operate their own school.
This allocation formula does not increase or decrease the total budget for the UIRSD.
This new allocation formula does not in any way threaten the reputation of the UIRSD for providing a superb education for its youngsters.
The West Tisbury selectmen have accepted the committee’s final report. The next step is for the selectmen to adopt, as their official position, this allocation formula. If the UIRSD is to continue, it is imperative that responsible fiscal governance be implemented.
It is my hope that the taxpayers, voters, and residents of West Tisbury join me in urging the selectmen to vote to adopt the formula as their position in upcoming conversations with Chilmark and Aquinnah officials.