West Tisbury selectmen agree to participate in Up-Island School Committee

The Chilmark School is one of two schools in the Up-Island Regional School District. — File photo by Susan Safford

On Wednesday, Nov. 2, West Tisbury selectmen addressed the ongoing debate over costs associated with running the Chilmark School. The Town of Chilmark’s school committee asked that a selectman and the town accountant from each of the three up-island towns meet and further discuss the financial cost-sharing model of the Chilmark School.

West Tisbury selectmen said they were willing to cooperate. They will wait, however, to hear what their own newly formed committee has to say on the topic, and selectmen will first consult with the town accountant, Bruce Stone, to see if he is willing to accept the appointment. Selectmen said Mr. Stone was not obliged to do so.

The West Tisbury school committee is made up of selectman Jeffrey “Skipper” Manter, finance committee member Doug Ruskin, and Susan Silk. The group met for only the second time on Thursday, Nov. 3, the day after the selectmen meeting.

“We’ve already decided the mechanism by which we want to proceed, so I don’t know where we are with this then,” said Richard Knabel, chairman of the selectmen. “I think that the committee needs to meet, deliberate, and come up with a response.”

“It’s just a matter of running some numbers in different scenarios,” Mr. Manter said.

“Could the committee that you’re on do their work, and can we then appoint you, as a representative of that committee and as a selectman, and Bruce [Stone] to meet with the larger [tri-town] group?” selectman Cynthia Mitchell asked Mr. Manter.

Mr. Manter thought that would be fine, but he felt the first step should be to hear the report from the new study group and then bring those conclusions to the board. Then the board would decide if the ideas were good to “carry to the other towns.”

“Presumably your committee would come up with formula adjustments,” Mr. Knabel said.

“That’s exactly right,” Mr. Manter said.

“I don’t have a problem cooperating with their request as long as they understand that you’re not going to have anything to say until that process is complete,” Ms. Mitchell said. She suggested Mr. Manter first meet with his committee, then bring those findings to the board. Then the board would decide if the ideas would move forward to the tri-town committee group.

Ms. Mitchell said West Tisbury selectmen will comply with the request from Chilmark, but will tell them that “our process is still underway.”

Mr. Manter questioned whether town accountant Bruce Stone could actually be part of the committee, “only because he’s extremely busy.”

“I don’t know what they’re going to do,” Ms. Mitchell said. “We’re just appointing a selectman and our town accountant to go and talk to them. I think it’s fine to accommodate them — they seem to want to move forward here.”

Selectmen agreed to first ask Mr. Stone if he is willing to be appointed to the tri-town committee, and that they will revisit the topic at next week’s selectmen meeting.

Other business

Selectmen addressed the outstanding complaint against Alpha Taxi owner Benoit Baldwin. Kyle Newall, formerly a taxi driver at Bluefish Taxi, filed a complaint with the West Tisbury Police Department for being verbally assaulted by Mr. Baldwin. Mr. Baldwin was asked — but not obliged — to respond to the complaint by Oct. 31. He failed to do so.

Mr. Knabel asked Mr. Baldwin to respond to that action by the end of November. “I would prefer the legal matters are resolved before we have the hearing,” Mr. Knabel said, referring to the legal action brought by Alpha Taxi against the town for its lack of Uber regulations.

Selectmen decided to first see if the complainer, Mr. Newall, who no longer lives on-Island or works for Bluefish, can be located, and if he is located, to ask him if he is willing and able to actually appear in a hearing, if there is one. If he is unable or unwilling to appear as a witness at the potential hearing, then there may not be one.

Ms. Rand will try to locate Mr. Newall, and selectmen will go from there.

Selectmen also made two appointments Wednesday: Jesse Oliver as the new assistant cemetery superintendent, and Amy Hoff to the library trustees (to fill the vacated position of the late Linda Chapman).

Selectmen wanted to remind everyone of the dedication for the new Veterans’ Memorial at 11 am on Nov. 10, with a short reception to follow. Also, the West Tisbury town holiday party is Thursday, Dec. 8; details to follow.