With a final vote expected in two weeks on where to site a new Tisbury School, town residents will have a final chance to add their opinions at a public forum tomorrow. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the school gymnasium.

A 19-member school building committee is deciding between two options: renovating and rebuilding the school at its current location on Spring street in the heart of town, or building a new school on town-owned property off Holmes Hole Road on the outskirts of town.

The school building project is taking place under the wing of the Massachusetts School Building Authority grant program. The program allows for eventual reimbursement of nearly half the cost of the project and also involves a rigorous set of requirements.

The building committee has been soliciting comment from community members since April through a series of workshops, surveys and public meetings. The committee plans to take a final vote on the site question at a meeting on June 7.

School building committee will decide on June 7 whether to rebuild at current site or move school out of downtown. — Jeanna Shepard

One community survey sent out showed a preference for rebuilding at the current site, with 46.35 per cent of respondents ranking that as their first choice, while 33.85 per cent of respondents ranked new construction on the 9.4-acre town-owned site near the Manter well as their first choice.

Two weeks ago the Tisbury selectmen voted unanimously to recommend that the school stay at its current site.

School building committee chairman Colleen McAndrews said overall, response has been mixed.

“We haven’t heard from all the groups,” she said. “Our surveys were representative of more people who use the school for town meeting and the playground, not as much feedback from parents or staff.”

A second survey has been sent out with the hope of reaching more stakeholders. Mrs. McAndrews said she sees the May 24 meeting as an important opportunity for people to make their preference known.

She described four options under consideration:

• Renovate and add onto to the existing school.

• Build a new two-story building on the existing site.

• Build a new three-story building on the existing site.

• Build a new two-story building on the Manter well site.

“We’re going to have maps up on the wall, every participant is going to be given the option to choose an option,” Mrs. McAndrews said. But in the end, she said it will be up to the building committee to decide.

Built in 1929, the Tisbury School is the oldest elementary school building on the Island. In 1938, the gymnasium was added. The last major addition, including a library, two kindergarten classrooms and two science classrooms, was built in the 1990s. Space has continually been an issue; the school still uses modular buildings from 2002 that were originally planned to be a short-term solution.

Preliminary cost estimate for a new school range from $49 million to $52 million, no matter where it is built. The town has qualified for a 41.26 per cent reimbursement from the MSBA on all eligible costs. The committee has also been weighing logistical factors including the displacement of students and classrooms during construction if the school is rebuilt on the current site.

School principal John Custer agreed there is much to weigh and consider — with pros and cons on both sides.

“It’s tough to balance,” he said. “We’ve heard over and over [that] whatever we’re doing should be for the next 50-plus years. Sometimes, I’ve gotten frustrated . . . the kids aren’t in this building for 50 years, they are here for nine at the most. I want those nine years to be valuable, meaningful and some of the project options I fear compromise that experience more than others. I worry about that.”

In the end, he said when most people think of the Tisbury School, they think of tradition.

“It’s been around since 1929, for a lot of people in the community it’s a bedrock,” he said. “I think it’s a really strong community school.”