The school committee of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) voted 7 to 1 to approve the certification of the fiscal year 2018 (FY 2018) school budget. Jeffrey “Skipper” Manter of West Tisbury voted in opposition, and Theresa Manning of Aquinnah was not in attendance.
The vote to certify the budget came after the committee approved a proposal made by Superintendent of Schools Matt D’Andrea to offset the budget with excess and deficiency (E and D) funds to pay for the $288,783 required for the other post-employee benefits (OPEB) trust. Mr. D’Andrea’s proposal came as a response to requests to reduce the school budget during a public hearing held at the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center at the high school on Nov. 28.
Committee member Kelly McCracken of Edgartown said that as taxpayers and school committee members, they had a responsibility to minimize the burden felt by taxpayers. “I think that if there’s another way of doing it, then that’s what we should do,” Ms. McCracken said.
Committee members voted 7 to 1 to offset the OPEB trust expense with E and D funds for FY 2018. As a result, the total operating expenses for FY 2018 remain at approximately $19,909,053. The total assessed expenses, however, were reduced with the offset — going from $17,594,177 to $17,305,394, or from roughly a 7.1 percent increase to a 5.4 percent increase.
Mr. Manter opposed both the proposal and the certification of the budget. He said he was not in favor of using E and D funds to offset budget expenses, and that he opposed the MVRHS budget particularly because of salary increases and contractual obligations like the cost of living adjustment (COLA), numbers he believed ought to be based on a formula.
“I think we should have a better fiscal plan in place, and I think we should think through what the actual impacts of some of the costs are,” Mr. Manter said.