Overcrowding in West Tisbury kindergarten classes for this year led to brief discussion last week among school committee members about capping the number of kindergartners coming from Aquinnah.

“I think we should suspend the policy of allowing Aquinnah students to automatically come here [to the West Tisbury School] due to the size of the [current] class,” said Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter 3rd, a member of the up-Island regional school committee who is also a West Tisbury selectman. “I think if any additional kindergarten aged students were to move to Aquinnah, I don’t think they should be accepted anymore.” The comments came during a meeting of the regional school committee.

The up-Island school district includes the Chilmark and West Tisbury schools and serves the three up Island towns.

Since Aquinnah has no school in its town, under the current policy, Aquinnah residents may send their children to either the Chilmark or West Tisbury school. Chilmark students who wish to attend the West Tisbury School must apply for an intra-district transfer and vice-versa. Last month the school advisory committee drafted a letter explaining how intra-district transfers worked that it hoped to send to parents of kindergartners, including a line about extending the deadline to Sept. 1.

The draft letter prompted the comments from Mr. Manter, who suggested suspending the policy for new kindergartners from Aquinnah.

“Because there’s just no more space available,” he said.

Others disagreed.

“I don’t feel like changing the policy or suspending the policy to the detriment of Aquinnah students is the way to solve it right now, I just don’t,” said school board member Theresa Manning of Aquinnah. “I just don’t think it is the way to solve the issue that were having, and it does harm the residents of Aquinnah who don’t have a school, and the one thing that they do have is the choice [between schools].”

Jane Vanderhoop, an Aquinnah parent, agreed.

“People could move their families to Aquinnah on knowing that school choice,” she said. “If you pull that, it could really disrupt families at the last minute and it just feels that it’s not warranted. On the possibility of a child moving to Aquinnah? It seems like it’s not really solving a problem that you have, and it’s attacking a community that is already struggling in that we don’t have a school in our town.”

Ms. Manning said she felt it was the board’s responsibility to deal with the overcrowded kindergarten classroom problem, but suspending access was not the appropriate direction to take.

“It’s not thoughtful enough to not have a conversation with the people who are going to be affected by it,” she said. “It seems like, I know this isn’t your intent, but something like that to be put on the agenda again to be discussed and decided on tonight seems sort of like a back door maneuver . . . . I’d rather have a lot of voices at the table to consider the impact.”

Vineyard schools superintendent Dr. Matthew D’Andrea said he heard both sides of the argument.

“This is the policy we’ve had, and I feel pulling it out, at the last second because it’s not working for us, or West Tisbury, is not the direction to go,” he said. “Certainly to have a greater debate about it and talk about it, we don’t want to be in this situation again, and how to make the change, is the way to go. So more people can be part of the conversation. But I think doing it right now is not fair.” In the end the committee agreed to schedule a meeting in Aquinnah in October to discuss the issue. Meanwhile, the extension for intra-school transfers was unanimously approved and the letter went out to school parents.