After walking out of an all-Island finance committee meeting last week, Edgartown is now focusing on short-term solutions to maintain and repair the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School with or without help from Oak Bluffs.
In a letter that will be sent to Superintendent Matt D’Andrea, high school Principal Sara Dingledy, facilities director Mike Taus, Edgartown building inspector Lenny Jason, the Edgartown school committee, Aquinnah selectmen, and Chilmark selectmen, Edgartown selectmen said repairs have been put off for too long.
“Since Oak Bluffs has announced that they will not back any capital expenditure without the proposed formula change, which is highly unlikely, it is time to focus attention on the deferred maintenance and repair that has been put off for too long,” the letter reads. “We would like to invite you … to meet with the board of selectmen to discuss the scope of work needed to make the current building safe and usable.”
Selectmen said the proposed formula would change the per-pupil formula, which is used by 92 percent of the K-12 school districts in Massachusetts, to one where Oak Bluffs, Tisbury, and West Tisbury, with a total of 68 percent of the high school students, would pay 40 percent of the cost. Edgartown, Chilmark, and Aquinnah, which have 32 percent of the enrollment, would pay 60 percent of the high school costs. Change in the funding formula requires a unanimous vote from all six Island towns.
Town administrator James Hagerty said the formula would be unsustainable for the town if changed.
Oak Bluffs’ proposal is to change the high school funding formula based on enrollment to one based on sole equalized valuation. Equalized valuation is the percentage breakdown of property values of the Island. Edgartown is 39 percent of that valuation, Chilmark is 15 percent, Oak Bluffs is 14 percent. Currently, the enrollment formula has each town paying roughly $30,000 per student — the third highest per pupil amount in the state — to fund the high school’s $19.5 million budget.
According to Hagerty, with an equalized valuation formula, the per-student costs would significantly rise for Chilmark ($99,454), Aquinnah ($58,219), and Edgartown ($44,044) while the per-student costs would decrease for Oak Bluffs ($15,000), Tisbury ($14,160), and West Tisbury ($27,984).
Hagerty said Edgartown’s finance committee members walked out of the meeting because Oak Bluffs’ offer of a formula based on property values was unrealistic and would add “exorbitant costs” to the town’s tax rolls.
At the all-Island finance committee meeting, members decided to pursue an outside consultant to help mediate the process of establishing a funding formula for high school capital costs, but Edgartown feels another consultant isn’t needed.
“Where we’re at right now, we’re going to pay a consultant to consult us on how to pay for another consultant to conduct building feasibility consultations,” Hagerty said.
At their annual town meeting in April, Oak Bluffs voters denied funding their share of a feasibility study for a new high school.
At their last meeting, Edgartown selectmen voiced their frustration with Oak Bluffs, and said the current funding formula for the high school has worked for many years.
Selectmen set a date to meet with town and school officials on Oct. 7 at 4 pm in the Edgartown Town Hall meeting room.
“We’re concerned about the high school. We’re concerned about the safety and the usability of the high school,” selectman Arthur Smadbeck said.
Selectmen unleash against dog owner
Selectmen ordered Jacqueline Callari-Robinson of Edgartown and Vineyard Haven to keep her miniature dachshund leashed and fenced in at all times when outside after the dog bit another woman.
At a dangerous dog hearing Monday, Catherine “Betsy” Buck, the town’s animal control officer, detailed the July 16 incident. Maria Lopez was walking her dog, Sami, near Marchant Path while Callari-Robinson was bringing groceries in from her car. Callari-Robinson’s three dogs escaped her house. One of the dogs, named Malcolm X, bit Lopez on the ankle and then attacked Sami, according to Buck’s report.
Lopez told selectmen Callari-Robinson did not restrain her dogs, and told Lopez to “walk off.” After repeated requests to restrain her dog, Callari-Robinson did. Lopez said the dog bite was so bad she missed work, couldn’t ride her horse, and now has a scar.
Callari-Robinson told selectmen she had been displaced from her home in Vineyard Haven after a fire and was bringing groceries inside her home when her dogs escaped. After realizing her dogs had ran outside, Callari-Robinson said she ran after them, grabbed her dogs, and brought them back to her home. She said she had no interaction with Lopez before running outside to restrain her dogs. “My dogs came out. [Malcolm X] did bite her, it was awful. I feel terrible, but it was an accident,” Callari-Robinson said.
Buck told selectmen the bite from Malcolm X did fit the definition of a dangerous dog. “It inflicted trauma to Ms. Lopez, unprovoked,” Buck said. She also suggested Callari-Robinson hire a dog trainer to train her dog.
“I’m not a dog psychiatrist,” Smadbeck said. “But what I can tell you is, the law in Edgartown is that dogs must be leashed.”
Selectman Mike Donaroma also gave Callari-Robinson a warning. “The dog owner should understand if this happens again, and you come in front of this board, we won’t be so lenient,” he said.