Chilmark School’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC) project saw some progress during the up-Island school committee meeting Monday evening. The committee unanimously ratified an inter-municipal agreement to pay for the project.
The committee agreed to move forward with the inter-municipal agreement between the up-Island school district and the three towns during the previous committee meeting, according to Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools business administrator Mark Friedman. Friedman said Chilmark agreed to borrow the $950,000 needed to fill in the school’s funding gap, which the school district would pay back with interest to the town over a 10-year period. Friedman said the project is currently estimated to cost $1.3 million. Chilmark has also pledged $126,000 from its Massachusetts Green Communities Designation & Grant Program funds.
Usually, the school district would consult its bond counsel for these agreements. However, because Chilmark School and the town use the same firm for bond counsel, it would create a conflict of interest. However, the attorney told Superintendent Matthew D’Andrea that a bond counsel and bank she consulted said other school districts have used similar inter-municipal agreements.
Friedman said Chilmark School’s attorney reviewed the agreement, and recommended to the committee not to sign the agreement until 60 days after the approval vote. The 60 days is to allow the up-Island towns a chance to have a town meeting if they do not approve of the agreement. Friedman was told by the attorney that while the school district itself is not borrowing money, it should proceed as if it were in order to be certain it did not break any state borrowing laws. The attorney recommended this approach because there were still elements to the agreement that looked like the district was borrowing money.
“It is my understanding that if we follow the directions of our attorney, that we would not be exposing ourselves to liability,” Friedman said.