Be at the spelling bee
Top spellers step to the podium at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School's Performing Arts Centers on Thursday, March 19, at 9:30 am, to compete in the 18th annual Island-wide Spelling Bee, sponsored by the Martha's Vineyard Times. The public is invited.
The winner will go on to compete in the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in late May.
Finalists were selected in school-based competitions for students in grades four through eight.
The seven finalists who will compete March 19 are:
Jared Bardwell, grade 4, and Lily Lubin, grade 7, Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School; Alice Keenan, grade 7, Edgartown School; Russell Shapiro, grade 6, Oak Bluffs School; Willow Wunsch, grade 6, Tisbury School; Timmy Roberts, grade 6, West Tisbury School, and Franklin Pilcher of Edgartown, a home-schooled sixth-grader.
The Martha's Vineyard Times underwrites all of the costs associated with the school spelling bees, including the week's trip to Washington, D.C., for the winner and a chaperone to attend the national competition. All of the contestants receive gifts from The Martha's Vineyard Times, as well.
West Tisbury ponders cost of COLAs
Following months of budget cutting and public discussion, West Tisbury is close to completing a proposed fiscal year 2010 operating budget, that is lower than the current fiscal 2009 spending plan. Fiscal 2010 begins July 1.
The one unanswered question is the level of cost of living adjustments (COLA) for town employees, which will be approved by voters at annual town meeting on April 14. Town accountant Bruce Stone said the amount of the budget decrease from FY 2009 would depend on the COLA percentage that voters approve.
As it stands, the finance committee recommends a two percent COLA that places the FY 2010 budget at $12,972,112.
The personnel committee has recommended a 3.6 percent COLA. That would push the total to $13,000,356.
Depending on which number is used, the savings would be $57,000, or $85,000, a difference of $28,000. Each percentage point of COLA increase represents about $19,000, Mr. Stone told The Martha's Vineyard Times.
The personnel board COLA figure will appear as a warrant article. The budget as presented will reflect the finance committee recommendation and a budget calculated based on the personnel board number. Voters will have the final say.
West Tisbury selectman Dianne Powers told The Martha's Vineyard Times that COLAs present a difficult question. "Do our people deserve a raise? Of course they do," she said. "Can we afford it? Our residents are dealing with financial difficulties of their own. Given what the taxpayers are going through, it is a difficult decision."