Chilmark FinCom rebuts West Tisbury school-sharing view

FinCom says report confuses on shared costs issue.


The Chilmark finance advisory committee asked the West Tisbury selectmen to explain why their town should entirely finance the operating costs of its school when West Tisbury does not do the same for its. Both towns are members of the tri-town Up-Island Regional School District (UIRSD).

The FinCom challenged the conclusions of a special committee’s report to the West Tisbury selectmen in a letter this week, although members of the Chilmark committee had not received a copy of the report, and relied on press coverage for their understanding of the report’s conclusions (Jan. 26, “West Tisbury committee recommends Chilmarkers alone pay costs of town school,”).

“Based on the reporting of the committee’s proposal, we are either misled or confused. It appears that the recommendation is that Chilmark alone pay the costs of a school that is part of a regional district. We find this to be problematic, at best. We don’t understand why Chilmark would assume the total operating cost of the Chilmark School while West Tisbury does not assume the total operating cost of the West Tisbury School,” the Chilmark finance committee wrote.

The Chilmarkers suggested that the Island school superintendent should work to better market the Chilmark School in order to increase its student population. “We would recommend that the UIRSD work with the superintendent of schools to develop an effective and comprehensive enrollment program to attract students to the Chilmark School, so that the district can fulfill its mission of providing quality education to the children of the district’s towns,” the report stated.

The finance committee members expressed their shared concern over costs, and said they plan to work together with the other two UIRSD towns — Aquinnah is the third member town in the region — and “hope that the three town selectman/accountant group can move forward on these issues.”

“I think it’s an unfortunate recommendation,” Chilmark selectman Bill Rossi told The Times on Feb. 1. “I feel that the committee members were predisposed to their opinion, and I don’t think they looked at it from a district perspective — I think they were looking at it entirely from a West Tisbury perspective. I would say that that formula doesn’t have a chance of getting voted in — at least from the Chilmark selectmen’s point of view.”