Leftover roof funds to pay for new MVRHS greenhouse

State grant will also help defray cost of new building.

There's duct tape holding together this greenhouse at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School. - Stacey Rupolo

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional School Committee is transferring $110,000 left over from a high school roofing project to help pay for a new greenhouse for the horticultural program.

Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School’s career technical education (CTE) program received a $50,000 state grant for the project, but needed to at least match the grant in order to accept the funds.

Barbara-Jean Chauvin, director of the CTE program, said in order to do the project correctly, additional funds were needed. In making her presentation, Ms. Chauvin showed photographs of failing cement and other structural problems with the existing greenhouse. “We’ve done a really nice job with duct tape,” she said.

The 120- by 30-foot building would replace the existing greenhouse, which would eventually be razed, she said.

Mark Friedman, finance manager for the high school, said the $110,000 would be transferred from $294,000 left over from a $1.6 million roofing project completed in 2014 that came in under budget. The high school is allowed to use the funds on construction projects, he said.

The project received near unanimous support, with the exception of Skip Manter, who raised questions about diverting funds that were borrowed for a roof project without getting permission from the member towns. He asked why money wasn’t used to either pay down debt or returned to the towns.

“It may be legally right, but to me there’s a moral issue here, too,” he said.

MVRHS principal Sara Dingledy said the new greenhouse is needed. “It’s a commitment to the Island, and it’s a commitment to the Island economy,” she said.

There are no other line items that could be looted for the funds to match the grant, because funds have already been redirected for the high school track and boiler projects, Ms. Dingledy said.

“This is an opportunity we can’t let go,” Superintendent Matt D’Andrea said. “You saw the pictures. It’s being held up with duct tape.”

Board member Janet Packer agreed. “We have kids in a building that’s held up by duct tape. I don’t even have words for that,” she said. “Let’s move forward on this and put these children in a building they deserve.”

Mr. Manter, who supported the need but not the funding mechanism, wasn’t the only one pushing back on the leftover funds. Board member Robert Lionette said the committee should be made aware of extra funds when projects are completed. “What irks me is we’ve been digging for money for other projects when this money is just sitting there,” he said.

The track project would not have been an acceptable use, Mr. Friedman said.

In other business, Mike Taus, supervisor of buildings and grounds, reported the track was completed on time and under budget at $130,000. “You should go out and run a lap. It looks great,” he told the committee. Meanwhile, Mr. Taus said he needs to replace one of four boilers at the high school at $60,000. The money is being transferred out of money set aside to improve the high school’s hot water distribution, he said.

Students Jared Koster and Meghan Sonia reported to the school committee about a weekly newsletter they produce for the high school. The newsletter, which has both a print and online component, features events, college visits, and scholarship information, and highlights student achievement, Jared told the committee.

“It’s invaluable to parents,” school committee chairman Kris O’Brien said. “It’s hard to get information, and you are spoon-feeding it to us.”

The high school highlighted its English as a second language program by having two students, Gabriel DaSilva and Sayra Guimares. Both students came to MVRHS never speaking English, but you wouldn’t have known it unless they said it. “Now I can do it, and I think everyone can do it, too,” Sayra said.

Mr. Manter reported that the school committee’s land-use subcommittee hit the pause button on a proposal by the M.V. Sharks baseball team to build indoor batting cages behind the baseball diamond at the high school. The Sharks planned to pay for the building and allow its use for high school baseball and softball teams.

With a plan to upgrade the school’s athletic facilities and perhaps seek a building project of its own, Mr. Manter said the timing just wasn’t right.

“It was hard to [hit pause] on something that wasn’t costing us anything,” Mr. Manter said.

The guidance department reported on SAT scores for the class of 2017. There were 142 of the 177 seniors who took the test, with a mean score of 575 on English and 558 on Math. Both are above state and national means. There were 12 students who scored in the 700 to 800 range in English, and nine who scored at that level in math.

Speaking of test scores, 38 students in the class of 2018 were made eligible for John and Abigail Adams scholarships through their scores on MCAS. They are Nicolas Andre, Perry Bliss, Samuel Bresnick, Margarett Burke, Samantha Cassidy, Riley Craig, Marissa D’Antonio, John Davin, Harrison Dorr, Carolyn Duarte, Rose Engler, Curtis Fisher, Jared Koster, Coltrane Leport, Marguerite Mayhew, Dillon McAndrews, Casey McCarron, Evelyn Medeiros, John Morris, Thiago Muniz, Lila Norris, Elizabeth O’Brien, Finn O’Callaghan, Luiz Oliveira, Ryan O’Malley, Larner Peak, Matthew Perzanowski, Lily Pigott, Lia Potter, Katharine Roberts, Samuel Rollins, Evan Sauter, Meghan Sawyer, Edward Smiley, Benjamin Tillman, Bennington Whalen, Elizabeth Williamson, and Garrett Zeilinger.