The All-Island School Committee approved a $3.85 million 2012 shared services budget for Vineyard schools presented by superintendent Dr. James H. Weiss last Thursday.
The budget is up 7.65 per cent over last year, mainly due to three new programs. The superintendent’s office will expand the Bridge Program for children with autism, add an at-large physical therapist and expand the summer school program.
The increase means every school district will see an increase in assessments for their share of the superintendent’s budget. While Oak Bluffs will pay the most of any town — $1 million — Tisbury will see the greatest percentage increase (14.42 per cent) for a total assessment of $829,450. The high school will pay $354,440 from its budget; Edgartown will pay $826,650, and the up-Island regional district will pay $808,470.
The superintendent’s operating expenses will go up slightly due to adjustments in health care selection among staff, contractual longevity payments and salary step increases.
“I wish our budget was level funded or a small increase, but we can’t provide additional services without additional dollars,” Mr. Weiss said. “Our belief is that the additional programs and Bridge Program are things that are truly necessary.”
Previously, each school has paid independently for physical therapy services. The $87,000 position will now be paid from the superintendent’s budget.
“In reality you don’t want to penalize yourself for housekeeping,” committee member Leslie Baynes said. “It all ads up. The budget hasn’t increased that much, the services are important and necessary along with providing to the community.”
The summer programs have not been fully funded for the past two years. The 2010 budget allotted $42,000 for the program, but actual cost was $70,850. Under the current budget $77,700 has been allotted for the program.
Committee member Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter asked where the funding was coming from; Mr. Weiss replied that extra money was left over from the pass-through account from local school districts and adjustments in health insurance.
“Our job here is to educate students on Martha’s Vineyard to the best of our ability, not to guarantee everyone who works for the system has the highest paycheck,” committee member Susan Parker said. “I would submit to you, Skipper, we pay now or pay later, and I’d rather pay now.”