Soaring enrollment at the West Tisbury School has led to the future need for a full-time Spanish teacher and a full-time industrial technology teacher, the school principal told the up-Island regional district committee at its meeting Monday night.

Principal Donna Lowell-Bettencourt said both positions are currently part time, and if the current spike in enrollment in the junior high grades holds, next year there will not be enough time to teach all the students.

“This year we’re a bit strained in that respect,” she explained. “We have a bunch of kids from charter school come back to the school which is a great thing, we had six kids from the charter school come back, and five are in the sixth grade. In addition we just had overall school growth, kids returning from school choice from other schools back to West Tisbury school, and kids moving into the town of West Tisbury. You can see numbers are very healthy, much larger than you’ve seen in the last several years.”

Total enrollment at the school this year is 354. Sixth grade is the largest class, currently with 56 total students. Seventh grade is the second largest with 45 students. The majority of the students are West Tisbury residents, Mrs. Lowell-Bettencourt said. A formal school census is done every year on Oct. 1.

A part-time special education teacher was also added to deal with an increase in independent education plans, although two special education positions have been eliminated as the education professionals follow students into the bridge program.

The increased need in instruction is reflected in the increase in the first draft of the Up Island regional school district budget for the coming fiscal year, reviewed by the committee Monday night. An $11.3 million budget was presented, a 5.44 per cent increase over this year.

“Well, we didn’t expect it to go down, now did we?” said committee chairman Michael Marcus. The committee went through line items, looking for places to cut.

Payroll obligations, workmen’s compensation costs and retiree health insurance are fixed, but Mr. Marcus identified a list of approximately 30 line items for possible reconsideration.

Among them are spending on education programs at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary (budgeted at about $2,000) and The Yard (budgeted at about $350). Mr. Marcus agreed that the programs benefit students but suggested rethinking the contributions, given rising costs district-wide.

“I think these organizations need to fend for themselves a bit,” he said. “For me, as miserable as it sounds, I’d rather see these organizations look to their membership and their boards to figure out how to raise money and not look to the school system.”

He also suggested shopping around for a new payroll provider to save money, decreasing postage and fuel and rethinking the increased contribution to Island Grown Schools.

As the committee looked for areas to reduce spending, the two principals defended the needs in their respective schools. The West Tisbury site budget is up 3.11 per cent over last year, while the Chilmark site budget is up 3.42 per cent.

When asked about $10,000 budgeted for furniture expenses, Mrs. Lowell-Bettencourt said student desks are in short supply and poor condition. Last year, she said the school had to borrow desks from another school.

“We have more students, we are literally out of desks and chairs for the classrooms,” she said.

Mr. Marcus also suggested eliminating the guidance counselor from the Chilmark School and giving the duties to principal Susan Stevens.

“My understanding you have certification as a guidance counselor and with your student population of 43 students, that I feel like you should be able to handle the responsibilities and we shouldn’t pay additional staff,” he said.

Chilmark committee member Robert Lionette disagreed, saying he had spoken with students and staff who said it is important to separate guidance from administration.

“The most common comment made was that ultimately it will undermine the rapport that guidance needs with the student and likewise and disciplinarian dimension of administration,” he said.

Mrs. Lowell-Bettencourt said if the committee wants deep cuts, she would have to start looking at reducing programs.

The committee asked for a five year look-back on areas in the budget that are historically over-budgeted and agreed to schedule budget workshops in the near future.