Tension over spending at the Chilmark School resurfaced this week, when the up-Island regional school committee revisited the topic of how to pay for heating system repairs at the school from last fall.

In October when the school boiler failed just as the weather began to turn cold, principal Susan Stevens bought a new one for $27,000. After that school administrators worked with Nelson Mechanical and South Mountain Company to repair machinery, install thermostats and install an energy recovery ventilation system that mixes fresh air with heat. To date, the project has cost $130,682, leaving the Chilmark budget with a $66,908 deficit.

At the committee meeting Monday night, there was general agreement that the repairs had been needed — but disagreement over how to pay for them. Earlier in the year the committee had discussed using excess and deficiency funds to pay for the repairs. Under state statute, the school is allowed to keep five per cent of excess funds from the budget each year. Typically, the extra funds are used to pay for unbudgeted expenses that come up during the school year. This year’s so-called E and D funds are expected to be certified at $200,386.

But on Monday Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter 3rd, a committee member from West Tisbury, said it needs to be made clear that Chilmark is paying for 80 per cent of the cost of the project in line with the district-wide cost sharing formula. Mr. Manter said under that formula, Chilmark is not entitled to enough E and D funds to cover its share of the cost. He suggested Chilmark’s portion of E and D funds be used to cover part of the deficit, and that the town pay an assessment to cover the remainder.

“The cost of the Chilmark School is under discussion in West Tisbury as you are well aware,” he said. “I think we need to make it very clear on paper that Chilmark is paying for 80 per cent of this bill. By taking it out of E and D I don’t think you can demonstrate the town of Chilmark is paying 80 per cent of this bill no matter how you do it.”

Mr. Manter is also a West Tisbury selectman. His board recently appointed a task force to study cost allocation in the up-Island school district; a preliminary report from the task force concluded that West Tisbury carries an unfair cost burden in the district, which has two elementary schools. Future meetings are planned to decide on what course of action to take.

Other school committee members disagreed with Mr. Manter, saying there is no prior policy of apportioning E and D funds under the cost-sharing formula. Last year, $200,000 of E and D funds were used to cover bathroom repairs after pipes froze and caused flooding at the West Tisbury School, with $199,000 used to offset the budget. Two years ago, $30,000 was spent on the West Tisbury kitchen and the year before $70,000 was spent on two special education educational support professionals in the West Tisbury School.

“We have to be consistent with the way we apply [the E and D],” said Kate DeVane, a committee member from West Tisbury. “If we did something without looking at a percentage last year for the West Tisbury site, I don’t see how we can turn around and say — unpopular as it might be in West Tisbury — I don’t see how we can turn around and say well we did that for West Tisbury last year, but this year we’re not going to do it that way, we’re going to do it by percentage formula, which we did not apply to last year.”

Vineyard schools superintendent Dr. Matthew D’Andrea agreed.

“[E and D] has been heavy on West Tisbury,” he said. “I understand [Mr. Manter’s] argument, I think going forward maybe it’s a good idea to start doing that, but I hear what Kate’s saying. This isn’t something that we have done in the past, this is a real need here at the Chilmark school, my feelings are it should come out of E and D.”

In the end the committee agreed to settle the matter at their June meeting, near the close of the fiscal year.

In other business, Mr. D’Andrea reported that students in seventh and tenth grades will be screened for opioid use starting next year, thanks to a grant. Under a new law in Massachusetts, students in the seventh and tenth grade will undergo verbal screenings with a counselor or nurse about drug use. The screenings are confidential and can be opted out of by the student or parents. Contingent on funding, all schools in the state will begin the screenings in the 2017/2018 school year.