West Tisbury schedules high school budget redo

West Tisbury voters will convene again on June 13 to vote on the MVRHS budget. — Eunki Seonwoo

West Tisbury will be convening a special town meeting in June to make a decision on the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) budget. 

Last month, West Tisbury became the first of two towns — the other being Chilmark — to zero out its share of the high school budget during the annual town meeting.

Whether the budget ultimately fails to move forward Island-wide or not, West Tisbury will need to approve a funding request. 

The town’s vote last month was out of protest against Martha’s Vineyard Regional School District vs. the Town of Oak Bluffs Planning Board, an ongoing case in Massachusetts Land Court filed by school officials after the planning board rejected a synthetic turf field. 

The three down-Island towns voted to fund their share of the high school budget during their annual town meetings, although Tisbury added a nonbinding recommendation for no more funds from the legal line be used toward the field lawsuit. Four out of three Island towns need to approve the budget for it to move forward, so it will come down to Aquinnah voters during their annual town meeting on Tuesday, May 9. 

In the scenario that Aquinnah votes down the budget, it would need to go back to the school committee. If a resolution is not made by July, the state would intervene and set a monthly budget likely based on the fiscal year 2023 budget.

But no matter what happens in Aquinnah, West Tisbury will have to hold a special town meeting.

“We would still have to have a special town meeting, along with Chilmark, because we made zero appropriations,” West Tisbury select board chair Skipper Manter said during the board’s May 3 meeting. Manter spearheaded the elimination of his town’s share of the high school budget at town meeting. “So, even if Aquinnah approves the budget, we have no funds to pay for our share of the high school assessment.”

The board unanimously approved the special town meeting for Tuesday, June 13, at 7 pm. 

Meanwhile, another warrant article that will appear during the special town meeting is a request to replenish the West Tisbury finance committee’s transfer fund. 

The special town meeting warrant will close on Friday, May 5, at noon.