Track work is off and running

Funding was approved by school committee.

The MVRHS track is currently closed for construction. — Stacey Rupolo

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) school committee on Monday night approved spending $77,417 from the current MVRHS budget to pay the remaining costs to resurface the high school track.

The work, by Cape and Islands Tennis and Track company in Pocasset, is underway now and is expected to be completed by the end of next week. The high school track has been in disrepair for more than two years, forcing the MVRHS track and field team to compete only at away events.

The decision to resurface the track also follows two years of ongoing negotiations between the high school and two ad hoc community groups dedicated to refurbishing the entire high school athletic complex.

Monday’s action follows a decision made earlier in the month to move ahead with track repair, absent an agreement with the Field Fund, which has raised a reported $2 million to remake the athletic fields as an all-grass facility.

Cape and Islands Tennis and Track crews are currently removing the old surface and will replace it with a polyurethane surface at a cost of $148,400. MVRHS had $70,000 on hand for the project, money approved for the purpose several years ago, but needed to find an additional $77,417 to pay for the work.

The committee accomplished that on Monday night by deferring two maintenance projects planned for this year. After brief discussion, the committee voted to defer replacing exterior windows until next year, which freed up $60,000. To come up with the rest of the money, the school will put off spending $15,000 to seal cracks in its parking lot. Another $2,500 will come from money set aside for a storage building.

In other athletics-related business, the school committee approved three motions to petition the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Committee (MIAA) to extend waivers to allow charter school students to compete for the MVRHS swim team and to allow eighth graders to compete at the high school level in swimming, The third request would allow eighth graders to continue to compete for the two-year-old JV boys hockey program. Waivers for this purpose, a long-standing practice by state high schools, are typically granted by the MIAA, which governs state high school athletics.

Their action follows comments by MVRHS athletic director Mark McCarthy and senior swim team captain Harrison Dorr that the boys JV hockey and boys and girls swim teams lack participants. Mr. McCarthy told the committee that only three or four high school players remain from the 2016-2017 JV boys hockey squad and that 12 to 15 eighth graders are interested in playing JV. Without them, the high school cannot field a JV team this season, Mr. McCarthy said, noting that eighth graders will not play at the varsity level.

Mr. Dorr is one of several swimmers at MVRHS who have had extraordinary success in individual competition in recent seasons. But because of lack of numbers, “we can’t compete or win as a team because we don’t have enough swimmers to qualify in all the events,” he told the committee. The committee also empowered Mr. McCarthy to investigate whether seventh graders could swim with the MVRHS team, drawing from the ranks of the Makos, an Island youth team.

In other action, the committee voted to acknowledge and thank retiring teachers Janis Wightman, chairman of the performing arts department, and golf coach Doug DeBettencourt. Ms. Wightman will retire after the current school year and Mr. DeBettencourt on Oct. 5, 2018.

The committee also voted to add the bowling club and the SoundWaves, an a capella singing group, as high school clubs after input from school committee student representative Audrey McCarron. MVRHS has 41 clubs available to students.

The committee also learned that MVRHS has received $2,500 from the state education department to fund its Credit for Life Fair, which teaches students to make personal financial decisions around spending, saving, and budgeting.