MVRHS will save $187,000 in health insurance costs in 2018-2019

Funding for school capital projects will be on all six annual town meeting warrants.

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Updated Feb. 26

A grateful Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) school committee last week learned that medical and dental costs will cost the school $187,000 less than they budgeted in the 2018-2019 school year.

The windfall results from final insurance premiums that increased far less than expected — only six percent higher next year, rather than the anticipated 15 percent. Dental costs will be unchanged from current levels, not the nine per cent budgeted. The committee voted 6-0 to accept a revised budget that reflects the savings.

In other news, voters at annual town meeting in all six towns will vote on whether to set up a stabilization fund in the regional high school budget to potentially fund a future high school renovation project expected to cost more than $100 million.

MVRHS school board member Amy Houghton said, “This is not a money vote. There is no money attached. The stabilization fund is a saving mechanism for big projects down the road.”

MVRHS finance manager likened the idea to the process towns currently use to fund future benefits and pensions for town employees.

The committee also voted to accept more than $18,000 in grants and gifts from seven donors and grantors for a range of high school activities and student accomplishments. They also saw a multimedia presentation on Project Vine, an alternative hands-on educational program at MVRHS. Department chairman Anna Cotton reported that the program, which is open to all students, is growing in popularity and includes 12 freshmen with a two-student waitlist.

The committee agreed to move discussion of the high school regional assessment to its March 9 meeting after member Jeffrey S. (Skip) Manter was able to retrieve the original 1957 regional agreement document from his files. An MVRHS subcommittee has been studying the regional agreement with an eye towards clarifying its language, to advance an Island-wide discussion on  overhauling the agreement.

Updated to correct how the stabilization fund would work.