A joint meeting among the Up-Island school committee, select boards, and finance committees was held with the hopes of passing and certifying the school district’s budget. Up-Island school committee chair Alex Salop said the committee called upon the select boards and finance committees to seek guidance. The budget decision was delayed for the third time, and the school committee will meet again next week.
“The Up-Island Regional School Committee has been locked in sort of a stalemate,” Salop said. “Primarily because of how we want to decide how to use our E and D [excess and deficiencies] money. There’s a fairly substantial amount of money in E and D that we can use, but there’s a disagreement on how to use it, which has really stopped us from forming a budget.”
Salop listed several options that might resolve the issue: using E and D to reduce the overall budget increase, using E and D to pay down OPEB (other post-employment benefits), or giving the E and D money back to the towns as free cash.
School committee members Skipper Manter (also the West Tisbury select board chair, which is the role he took during the meeting) and Robert Lionette were against using E and D money for the budget, because they believed it was irresponsible and shortsighted to rely on it for a long-term issue.
Some of the other members of the school committee and school district disagreed, saying the money was voted by voters to be used for educational purposes, and should be used when the money was needed.
The select boards and finance committees also discussed the best way to approach E and D and the budget, but they decided to hold their own separate meetings about the issue and get back to the school committee about their opinions.
School committee minute taker Marni Lipke told the assembled boards that if the school committee is not able to certify the budget, the previous budget will stand.