Planning for a new school in Tisbury begins in earnest with the news last week that the school has been invited to participate in a specialized state grant program for school buildings.

On Jan. 27 school leaders learned from the Massachusetts School Building Authority that the school had advanced to the next step of a grant process that is expected to lead to funding and also planning assistance for a new school. Out of 96 schools that applied, eight were notified that they could proceed to the next step in the grant process.

This is the second time the Tisbury school has applied for the grant.

“The project is a huge undertaking for the town of Tisbury, and we have much to learn as we look ahead,” Tisbury school principal John Custer wrote in an email sent to parents last week. “Fortunately, partnering with the MSBA means that its staff will work very closely with us every step of the way,” he said.

The school project is still in a preliminary planning phase with no design or cost estimate yet.

Built in 1929, the Tisbury School is the oldest elementary school building on the Island. The gymnasium was built in 1938. The last major addition was built in the 1990s and included a library, two kindergarten classrooms and two science classrooms. Space is an ongoing problem; the school still uses modular buildings that were thought to be a short-term solution in 2002.

The building roof was replaced two years ago.

The Tisbury School has been consistently recognized for academic excellence through the years.

In 2011 a facility needs committee was formed. A feasibility study followed that outlined broad options: renovating the existing building, putting on another expansion or building a new school at a different site. Cost estimates were steep; all were above $40 million.

Guided by the Massachusetts School Building Authority, school leaders will now start the process from scratch. Vineyard superintendent Dr. Matthew D’Andrea said working with the state agency is a benefit.

“It’s an organization that knows the process, will guide us through the process and make sure it’s done correctly,” he said. “I’m excited for the school, I’m excited for the town and I’m excited for the students.”

The school has until early November to complete a series of steps.

“I can’t wait to start,” Mr. Custer said in his email.