News in Brief
Search reopened for Edgartown School principal
At an Edgartown School committee meeting last night, superintendent of schools James Weiss expected to announce plans to reopen the search and not hire any of the finalists for the principal's job.
"I think I have a real clear sense of what the community is looking for, and right now, I don't think I have that person," Mr. Weiss said late yesterday about his decision to reopen the search. "While all three of the candidates have some of the skills, I don't think any one of them has all of the skills Edgartown School needs."
The three candidates chosen as finalists in mid-January as the result of the initial search included Elana Aitken, clinical director, Hampshire Educational Collaborative; Carlin Hart, Oak Bluffs School assistant principal; and Lisa Sheffield, educational consultant.
Following public interviews, the candidates each made a daylong visit at the Edgartown School in late February, where they met with educators, school committee members, parents, students, and community members. Mr. Weiss encouraged everyone to fill out comment cards about the candidates, which he said he reviewed in making his decision.
Since a new principal, once hired, will not assume duties until July 1, Mr. Weiss said, "I don't want to settle for someone who is not as close to the perfect candidate as I can find."
One contest on Chilmark election ballot
Chilmark nomination papers have been returned, and barring a write-in campaign there will be only one race on the ballot when voters go to the polls on April 25.
Incumbent selectman JB Riggs Parker, a retired corporate lawyer who has served on several town boards, faces a challenge from commercial fisherman Karsten David Larsen, a newcomer to electoral politics but a familiar face on the Menemsha waterfront.
Vineyard graduation rate higher than state average
Graduation rates for Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) students surpassed the state average, according to a recently released analysis from the state's Department of Education (DOE).
Superintendent of schools James Weiss told the MVRHS school committee last week approximately 88 percent of 220 students who entered as ninth graders in 2002 or transferred into the class graduated on schedule, compared to about 80 percent statewide, according to the DOE report.
Looking at a four-year adjusted rate, which included only those who attended the regional high school all four years, 180 students, the rate jumped to 93.9 percent, Mr. Weiss pointed out.
The graduation rates for the class of 2006 were the first released as required by the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law and by a National Governors Association compact that Massachusetts signed, a DOE press release stated.
For federal accountability purposes under the NCLB law, all states are required to produce data describing the percentage of students who graduate with a diploma within the standard number of years (defined as four), the DOE reported. Beginning this year, Massachusetts will use the graduation rate instead of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) competency determination rate to set Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets for high schools.
Casey Sharpe withdraws from selectman's race
This week, former Oak Bluffs town administrator Casey Sharpe withdrew from what promised to be a ferocious fight for one seat on the board of selectman. Ms. Sharpe turned in nomination papers last month and was gearing up for a campaign to run against incumbent Kerry Scott.
In a voicemail message left Tuesday, Ms. Sharpe confirmed her withdrawal from the race. "My reasons are personal, and I don't want to talk about them," she said.
Ms. Sharpe served as the town's executive secretary for two years and as its town administrator for almost four years. When she announced her resignation in May, several past and present Oak Bluffs town officials, including selectman chairman Duncan Ross and former selectman Richard Combra Sr., said they believe her departure stemmed in part from what they described as repeated meddling in Ms. Sharpe's day-to-day operations by Ms. Scott.
A race still remains between Ms. Scott and Mac Starks, a town custodian, who made an unsuccessful run for the board last year.
Photo by Aubrey Gibavic
Truck stuck on
Tisbury firefighters worked with NSTAR to dislodge a truck that tangled with a telephone wire yesterday morning.
Tisbury firefighters and an NSTAR crew had a balancing act to solve yesterday, after a delivery truck became entangled with a telephone wire in a quiet residential neighborhood.
Dave Degregorio was driving the truck on Cook Street in Tisbury, when a low-hanging telephone wire caught the right corner of the truck. The wire pulled the vehicle up onto it's left side, and the front and back wheels on the right side elevated about a foot off the ground.
Tisbury fire chief John Schilling said Mr. Degregorio called 911 from his cell phone while still inside the truck, and crews arrived at the scene around 10 am. Fire officials promptly cut the power to the area, and told Mr. Degregorio, the sole occupant, he could safely exit the truck.
To set the truck free with minimal damage, NSTAR used a truck to secure the pole to which the wires were attached, and with a rope and pulley system took enough tension off the wires that the truck could back out from the wire's grip.
"It was a slow methodical process," Chief Schilling said following the episode. "Fortunately there wasn't any threat to life, safety, or environmental issues."
Mr. Degregorio was able to drive the truck away from the scene, and crews cleared out by noon.
High school seeks
new assistant principal
Assistant principal Anne Lemenager has asked to return next year to her former position as the chairman of the health and physical education department at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS). Ms. Lemenager said her move is prompted by the announcement that Nancy Shemeth, currently the health and physical education department chairman, will retire at the end of the school year.
Although she enjoys her administrative job, Ms. Lemenager said Ms. Shemeth's retirement presents an opportunity to return to the classroom, a decision she made with the support of principal Peg Regan. "I am 100 percent cut out for the challenges of teaching - that's where my strengths are, and that's my first love," Ms. Lemenager said.
Over the last two weeks, the high school has advertised for candidates for the assistant principal job, with a starting date of July 1.
SSA moves to
dispose of Islander
Sailing smoothly through their March meeting agenda the Steamship Authority (SSA) members voted on Tuesday to declare the Islander surplus and directed management to proceed with the disposal of the ferry.
The SSA plans to hire a marine survey of the ferry and solicit bids from marine operators. Wayne Lamson, SSA general manager, said he would ask the board to make a decision, which could include the acceptance or rejection of any bid, at the July board meeting.
Addressing calls from some SSA watchers to keep the Islander, Mr. Lamson said it is not economically feasible to do so. He said the 57-year-old ferry cost more than $500,000 annually to maintain, $200,000 to insure and will require a drydock inspection by the Coast Guard in 2008.
Marc Hanover, the Vineyard member, said he had told representatives of the Martha's Vineyard Museum that if the line decided to scrap the ferry, he would ask for the pilothouse and other artifacts. He asked for the board's support of that commitment.
Mr. Hanover said he understood the sentimental attachment many people have to the Islander, but said she is expensive to maintain and the board must make wise business decisions.
In other business, the board approved a fall schedule that substitutes the Island Home for a freight boat on a 6 am run, allowing for a reduction from five to four freight boat trips and reducing crewing needs. The schedule adds a daily 9:30 pm departure from Vineyard Haven.
Acting on an earlier request from Mr. Hanover, Mr. Lamson provided a report on the proposed redistribution of preferred spaces for the purpose of making more reservations available at peak periods and freeing up spaces not now used.
Mr. Lamson and Mr. Sayers provided an update of a draft of a "customer policies and procedures handbook" that collects all of the existing policies and procedures in 103 pages. Once completed, the handbook will be available on the SSA website.
Carl Walker, director of engineering, reported that the boatline would need to add floor drains at a cost of $37,000 to its Fairhaven maintenance facility, after a state board ruled that the state plumbing inspector has jurisdiction over SSA projects. He said future land-based projects will need to comply with state, not local codes.
Mr. Walker also reported that all of the engineering has been done and permits are in place for the reconstruction of the Oak Bluffs SSA terminal. "We just need money, and we can go," he said.
The board approved a new one-year contract with the Vineyard Transit Authority to provide shuttle bus service between the Park and Ride lot and the Vineyard Haven SSA terminal. According to the VTA a total of 77,002 passengers used the shuttle service in 2006, a 20-percent increase. The contract, which reimburses the VTA based on for labor and fuel, cost the SSA $67,047 last year.
Bob Davis, SSA treasurer, reported that net operating income for 2006 is expected to be $6.25 million, or some $4.8 million higher than in 2005, and $2 million higher than the 2006 operating budget.
Health fair showcases hospital services
Saturday's health fair at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital will give Islanders of all ages the chance to explore the hospital, learn about the Island's many health services, and perhaps get one of several available screenings. It is also a chance to climb inside an ambulance or a Coast Guard helicopter, get a free massage, or catch up on the latest programs for the uninsured or underinsured. All this and free food, too.
Rachel Vanderhoop of the hospital's development office explains, "The idea is to bring the community into the hospital when they are in good health and give them information about staying healthy."
Several free medical screenings will be offered, including those for glaucoma, high blood pressure, and skin cancer. A cholesterol screening costs $5, and persons doing that should not consume food or dairy for 12 hours prior to the test. Come early, get screened, and then break your fast with the refreshments provided by the hospital's food and nutrition department.
The fair will run from 8 am to noon on March 17. There is no admission charge.
A story about Vineyard Smiles, published in the March 8 Times Calendar section, reported that 25 students received in-school dental check-ups during this school year. The correct number is 250.