Electric buses arrive at MVRHS

Chargers soon to be installed on campus.

The high school is working on introducing two new electric buses into their fleet. — Lucas Thors

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) will be installing two chargers for two new electric buses the school recently acquired.

At Monday’s MVRHS committee meeting, member Kim Kirk said the two buses have arrived onsite at the high school, and as part of the criteria for the grant that helped pay for the vehicles provided by Volkswagen, two chargers must be installed, and the buses must be up and running by the end of the month.

“We engaged in a very extensive discussion with several different providers,” Kirk said. “We landed on having Brissette Electric do the sitework necessary to accommodate the charging stations, and to have Anderson BlueBird install the chargers.” Kirk stressed the need for expeditiousness in getting the buses rolling, as the kinds of batteries they use aren’t supposed to remain uncharged for long periods. Kirk noted that the chargers will be able to be moved, according to changes in the campus layout, with respect to the bus fleet. 

Martha’s Vineyard school business administrator Mark Friedman said the total purchase and installation price winds up being $18,552, but he requested that the committee authorize up to $20,000 in spending, just in case there are “any hiccups.”

One source of potential funding to pay for the chargers, according to Friedman, is unspent HVAC feasibility study funds, but there is a line within the transportation department budget set aside for vehicle cleaning and contractual services that he said acts as a sort of contingency line for transportation-related expenses. “We haven’t had to use those funds, and there is currently $48,464 unspent,” Friedman said. He said the money would need to be transferred into one of the capital building expense lines for reporting purposes. The motion to purchase and install the chargers passed, with committee member Skipper Manter as the only dissenting vote. 

In other business, parent Kristy Brooks read a letter she and her husband wrote on April 27 to Superintendent Matt D’Andrea and committee chair Amy Houghton. “We are writing to express our disappointment with Principal [Sara] Dingledy’s refusal to allow parents to attend a meeting between Joe Schroeder and the outdoor track team held yesterday, April 26,” Brooks read from the letter. She continued to say that, to her knowledge, Schroeder was suspended or put on leave by the high school during the middle of the indoor track season “with no explanation to the athletes or their families as to the reason.”

Shortly after Schroeder went on leave, Brooks said Dingledy shared at a meeting with athletes that she hoped the matter would be resolved in seven to 10 days. “Imagine our surprise on Monday, April 25, when we learned from an email that Joe would like to meet with the team to check in and talk with the runners,” Brooks said. She said she thought it would be prudent for a parent to be in attendance at the meeting, but that Dingledy said the meeting was only for students. “Given the nature of the allegations, as we only know through hearsay and conjecture since no information was provided, whether true or not,” Brooks said, “that a principal would not allow parents to be present at a meeting where their children’s wellbeing as athletes and individuals is impacted, is wrong and inappropriate in our opinion.”

Dingledy responded by saying that the school has been making counselors available to students, and ensuring that anyone who wishes to speak about the matter has a trusted person they can speak with. She noted that the meeting was not mandatory for student athletes, and that the meeting itself was actually to allow athletes the opportunity to meet with the new coach who has been appointed to take over for Schroeder, who stepped down from his longtime role as the high school track coach. “We believed it was important for someone who had been coaching for a significant amount of time to at least explain the decision to step aside and allow the coach that has currently been appointed and hired to continue on in stability in that role,” Dingledy said.

Another member of the community to speak during the public comment period was Beka El-Deiry, who first thanked the school committee for their service, particularly for the endless hours they’ve spent trying to give students an adequate athletic campus to play on. But she said she is concerned that the concept of “Vineyard pride” is being adopted as a term to support the track and field project. “If a plastic field is installed here, regardless of what our public and protective government has ruled on, I won’t have pride in that. If our school committee sues the government, that will be a real pride-killer for me, and I think a lot of people,” El-Deiry said. 

She added that the school has still not stated explicitly what funding source the track and field project will utilize, although she acknowledged that officials have pointed to private donors.

Committee member Kris O’Brien said there is no existing donor list for the project.