Tisbury voters approve tax hike for school project

Cutrer ousts Rogers in select board race.



Tisbury voters approved a $55 million Proposition 2½ debt exclusion to pay for renovations and an addition at Tisbury School that will raise taxes by 10 percent on average for taxpayers over the next 30 years. 

In a vote of 821-224, voters said yes to borrowing $55 million — $53 million for the school project and another close to $2 million for temporary, modular classrooms on town-owned land on West William Street.

“The voters spoke, and this committee answered the question of what they wanted to see in a project,” Harold Chapdelaine, chair of the building committee, told The Times. “The next phase begins.”

The vote comes just nine days after voters approved the measure overwhelmingly at town meeting, and three years after voters rejected a less expensive new school on the same property, which included $14 million in state aid. The renovation and addition project has no money committed to it other than taxpayer funds, though town leaders have vowed to seek both grants and private donations.

It’s been a difficult couple of years at Tisbury School. In 2019, part of the school had to be vacated because of elevated levels of lead and asbestos, with some of the student population sent to Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. Then COVID-19 hit, and students were taught remotely for a period of time.

The school’s schematic design, which was done by Tappé, expands the footprint of the school while maintaining the façade. The front entrance will move to a new wing of the school, and, for the first time, will be accessible under federal guidelines for those with disabilities. The work has been described by Chapdelaine as a “gut job,” because the interior will be taken down to the studs to rid the school building of lead and asbestos issues.

Principal John Custer, who has been advocating for a new school, appreciated Tuesday’s vote.

I’m thankful and sincerely appreciative for the support from Tisbury voters. This project is important for our school community and for our town. The result is gratifying,” Custer wrote in an email. “It’s reassuring to look forward with optimism. I’m particularly happy for Tisbury School students.”

Meanwhile, voters elected Roy Cutrer Jr. to the select board over incumbent Jim Rogers by a vote of 647-347. 

Rogers was shocked by the outcome. “Well, I’m not happy,” Rogers said. “Of course, I’m disappointed. I thought I did a good job for the town over the past few years.”

Rogers went on to say that issues reported in the newspaper — particularly with the police department — happened before he joined the board. “I’m stuck cleaning it up,” he said.

But Rogers, who served the select board on the school building committee, was pleased with the school vote. “I’m ecstatic about the school,” he said. “The good news is that the school passed.”

Cutrer thanked the town’s voters. “I just want to thank the voters and thank the town of Tisbury for the opportunity. What made the difference? I was out there talking to everyone I could. Thanks for the opportunity,” he said. “The town’s got a lot of things on its plate. I’m looking forward to jumping in and helping out.”

Cutrer, who served on the board of assessors, said he has no agenda. “I’m looking forward to being the voice of reason and the voice of the town,” he said.

But Cutrer’s election poses another challenge. He was the top write-in candidate for the vacant board of assessors position.

Roy Cutrer will resign from the board of assessors (per our conversation of today), and will become a member of the select board as elected,” town clerk Hillary Conklin told The Times in an email. “Roy Cutrer was also the write-in candidate with the highest number of votes for the board of assessors, so that created (an) additional vacancy. The vacancies will both be filled by a joint meeting of assessors and select board; terms are until the next election in April 2022.”

Conklin told The Times that Daniel Seidman won the most write-in votes for both the vacant three-year and one-year terms on the finance committee. Seidman is taking the three-year term, and a joint meeting of the finance committee and select board will appoint an individual until the next election.

Voters also approved a $5 million Proposition 2½ debt exclusion to repair roads in town by a vote of 893-135.


Here are the full results of the Tisbury elections:

Constable, 1 position

Mark J. Campos (754 votes)

Select board, 1 position

Roy Cutrer Jr. (647 votes)

James J. Rogers (347 votes)

Assessor, 1 position

(Currently vacant )

Water commissioner, 1 position

Roland M. Miller (725 votes)

Planning board, 1 position

Elaine T. Miller, 736 votes

Library trustee, 3 positions

George J. Balco (663 votes)

Pamela S. Street (703 votes)

Janet K. Hefler (684 votes) 

Finance and advisory committee, 3 years, 3 positions

Nancy B. Gilfoy (696 votes)

Allen Vincent Rogers (600 votes)

Finance and advisory committee, 1 year, 2 positions

Rachel F. Orr (680)

Question No. 1

Yes (821)

No (224)

Question No. 2

Yes (893)

No (135)


  1. So happy about such a strong ballot vote for Tisbury School restoration. I am glad for so many reasons especially as it is so needed and that at least lending rates are so low now. A strong thank you to all of you who worked so diligently to get us to Town Meeting presentation and vote and now the ballet vote.Thank you Tisbury voters!
    Citizens can continue to make design suggestions. I trust the school and town leaders will now seek grants and any state and federal construction aid and private donations to hopefully lower what the town must borrow and what we as citizens will need to contribute to continue to educate our children.

  2. Back in early 1979, MVRHS students were sent to the Tisbury School for 4 months (1-7pm) while asbestos was removed from the high school building. Out of the frying pan and into the fire in hindsight. We laughed as we squeezed our bodies into the tiny desk and chair sets.

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