High school revives new building discussion

Superintendent approaches Edgartown with MSBA, committee meeting.

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Superintendent Matt D'Andrea revived discussion of a new high school building at an Edgartown select board meeting Monday.

After hitting pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School are reconvening the high school building committee.

Since the high school’s building committee has not met in several years, Superintendent Matt D’Andrea said he wanted to reach out to each town and have them appoint a member to a new committee.

D’Andrea said the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) has said it is interested in working with the high school, but won’t get involved until each Island town is on board with a new school project and meets with the MSBA. “MSBA has reached out to me, and they’ve indicated they have a desire to work with us. As many of you know, there’s a substantial amount of money that comes with partnering with MSBA,” he said.

The kicker is that MSBA won’t accept the high school into the program until each Island town supports a new school project. “As you guys know, at this time Oak Bluffs has not done that,” D’Andrea said, referring to Oak Bluffs voters denying funding for a feasibility study for a new high school at their 2019 annual town meeting. “I’m hoping that by putting this vision together, getting an endorsement for the school committee and the building committee, then bringing the towns together with MSBA, perhaps we can work through that and get some sort of project done at the high school.”

Board member Arthur Smadbeck said it’s been a long road for a new high school, and that discussion of a new building has been sidetracked by discussions about funding formulas.

Oak Bluffs leaders have been vocal about their dissatisfaction with the funding formula, which is based on school enrollment, for regional funding. Oak Bluffs, which frequently has the largest enrollment, often pays the most for regional funding requests. 

In turn, Edgartown has voiced its concerns with Oak Bluffs for not sticking to the funding formula that was agreed upon in 1956.

Smadbeck said he was troubled by a letter D’Andrea sent to the board that said the high school would be a “community center” and an “adult education facility.”

“Stop focusing on the community center, and we’re going to need this and we’re going to need that,” Smadbeck said. “We have 600 to 800 high school students, and we have to build a facility for them and a program for them. Keep our eye on that ball, and if we can do that, we can get everybody to move forward.”

In other business, the board approved an all-alcohol license for Katama Kitchen, which took over the former Right Fork Diner building. The change was from a beer and wine license to all-alcohol. 

 

3 COMMENTS

  1. It would be a real sign of progress if it didn’t take 20 years to get a building as it did when the first regional high school building was built.

  2. So how much will it cost Tisbury for their part of the cost of a new high school?
    There taxes just went up 10% for their new K-8 school. They are going to be paying 25% of the cost of a new high school. Assuming $140 M that means $35 M more on the back of The Tisbury tax payers. That will up their taxes by 7%. Combined that is a 17% increase or about $1,000 / year for average home owner.

  3. Easy for Mr. Smadbeck to speak for his wealthy town, as if the inequities of the funding formula were a “sidetrack”. No, Mr. Smadbeck, it is the heart of the matter. A new, or largely renovated school, is a capital improvement, a project that will hopefully benefit the kids and the Island for many, many years. Why should a long out-of-date funding formula, based on a single year’s enrollment, be the manner in which a $50 million (or greater) project, to last maybe 50 years, is funded?
    Oak Bluffs and Tisbury have the greater enrollment because we are the most “affordable” towns for people with young children to settle on Martha’s Vineyard. Why should a homeowner in a house worth $1 million in OB pay almost three times as much in taxes toward such long-term capital projects compared with homeowners in comparable houses in Edgartown or Chilmark?
    We offered a very gradual way of getting to a single Island-wide tax rate, but Mr. Smadbeck refused to even talk about it. Until a fairer plan is achieved it will be very difficult to reach consensus on a high school rebuilding project.

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