MVRHS building committee takes first steps

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Members of the new Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School building committee this week took first steps in shaping their organization’s goal of renovating or building a new high school.

If the group of community and business leaders had any doubts about the need, facilities manager Mike Taus took the group on a tour of the nearly 60-year-old facility and its 1978 and 1992 add-ons, which are served by the original power plant, water, and electrical systems.

The tour had the feel of a high-stakes “Antiques Roadshow” presentation.

For example, standing in the boiler room, Taus pointed to an original water holding tank and boiler system that he said inspectors are unwilling to inspect because of their creaky conditions. As the group moved through the building, Taus noted that the aging structure is no longer in compliance with regulations passed since its construction. For example, the school has five hallway ramps to accommodate height changes related to building additions over the years. None of the ramp slope angles are compliant with current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, he said.

After the group returned to to the library conference room, interim building committee chairman Matt D’Andrea updated the group on the status of the three-year rebuilding effort. He noted that efforts to enlist funding and expertise from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) are ongoing, though the agency has vetoed the MVRHS plan for the past two years.

MSBA participation is key because the agency provides up to 50 percent of funds for school building projects, he said, noting that MSBA has shown more interest in MVRHS’ application this year, visiting MVRHS in late August. Their decision is expected by year-end.

The group consists of 10 volunteers now, including architect and builder Peter Rosbeck, Adult Continuing Education executive director Sam Hart, Oak Bluffs selectman Brian Packish, MVRHS Principal Sara Dingledy and education and administrative professionals from Island towns.

D’Andrea said he would begin an advertising and informational campaign to attract additional members of the community to serve on the committee. Interested residents may call him directly at 508-693-2007, ext. 15, he said.

The building committee meets next on Oct. 9 at 3 pm in the MVRHS library conference room.