Charter School to weigh $3.49M budget
The administrators and board of trustees of Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School (MVPCS) are fine-tuning a $3.49 million draft fiscal year 2010 (FY10) budget for consideration and approval at the school's annual meeting on May 7. The FY10 budget represents a 3-percent increase over $3.38 million for FY09.
The Charter School operates as a public school, independent from schools in the Martha's Vineyard Public Schools (MVPS) system, under a charter granted by the state's Board of Education (BOE). The Charter School opened in West Tisbury in 1996. The state's Board of Education granted the school's five-year charter in 2001, which was renewed in 2006 for another five years.
The Charter School operates on a different budget cycle, not tied to the approval process at annual town meetings like other Island schools. The Charter School's budget process began this month, with a draft FY10 budget put together by director Bob Moore, assistant principal Claudia Ewing, and business director Seth Mosler.
On March 5, the Charter School held a meeting open to the school's board of trustees, staff, teachers, parents, and community members, at which time Mr. Mosler went over the budget, answered questions, and listened to ideas.
Mr. Mosler will present a revised final draft budget at the next board meeting on April 1. It will be posted with the board's comments prior to the Charter School's annual meeting on May 7, at which time board members, teachers, students, parents, and staff will all vote together on whether or not to approve it.
"Our budget meetings are a little different - at the town meetings and the regional school district meetings, the towns and regions can decide how much they're going to tax the people and how much they're going to spend on education," said Mr. Mosler in a recent phone call. "We're different, given that the state is going to give us a check for a certain amount."
Unlike other school budgets, which are included in Island town budgets, the Charter School's budget must balance out between revenues and expenses. There are no mechanisms such as overrides or excess and deficiency funds to make up any differences.
"If we have some kind of extraordinary expense coming up, whether it's for special education or fixing a roof or a boiler, whatever it is, we don't have any way to raise additional money, so we just have to find that money somewhere else," Mr. Mosler pointed out. "So our budget, I guess in some ways, is much more predictable, because we're given a block of money and we have to chop it up, rather than determining how much we really need to do what we have to do."
Divvying up the costs
The state Department of Secondary and Elementary Education calculates a per-pupil tuition rate for all school districts, which is allocated for each child the Charter School enrolls.
"The State has a very complex formula, but what they basically do is look at how much all of the sending towns pay to educate the kids in their schools, and if kids from those towns come to our school, then the state gives us that money," Mr. Mosler explained.
Because Martha's Vineyard is not regionalized as a whole, there are five different tuition rates for individual school districts in Tisbury, Edgartown, and Oak Bluffs, the Up-Island Regional School District (UIRSD), and the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School District (MVRHS).