Up-Island school district to keep school choice

HVAC project on hold because bid was more than budgeted.

The Up-Island regional school committee voted to have its schools participate in school choice. — Stacey Rupolo

The Up-Island school committee voted 4-1 to participate in school choice, with member Skipper Manter as the only dissenting vote, because he said he believes the program is a strain on West Tisbury School’s resources and students. 

Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools Superintendent Matthew D’Andrea said this “is the time of year” to vote on whether to participate in school choice. 

“It’s something that our elementary districts have continued to participate in for many years, offering our students across the Island the opportunity to attend elementary schools in other districts that might better meet their needs,” D’Andrea said. “It’s something that has been valuable for many of our families.”

This will be for the 2022–23 school year. 

“I think we take in way too many school choice students. They add to our expense, they create a higher teacher-student ratio, and I think we should seriously consider a five-year freeze on this,” Manter said. He pointed out that room must be made for students in the future, stating a balance is needed, and will cost West Tisbury School. 

Committee member Kate DeVane said there has been good communication between the schools and the committee, saying she was in favor of the school choice program. 

After some discussion, committee chair Alex Salop said, “It would be setting a bad precedent for us not to accept school choice at this time.” 

In other business, West Tisbury School received a donation of various kitchen supplies from Warren Commercial for the school’s lunch program, which was unanimously approved by the committee. 

Meanwhile, Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools business administrator Mark Friedman told the committee there was only one bidder for the Chilmark School heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) project, at a price of $1.9 million. However, with the various funds the school district has for the project, the projected budget was $1.3 million. Friedman said the project could be done in pieces, but it would be challenging. 

“It wasn’t a competitive bid in my opinion, but that’s what we got,” Friedman said. He said he would update the board at its next meeting.