Tisbury School teachers and administrators are rushing to prepare for the first day of school in unfamiliar territory, as town leaders work to find a practical long-term plan to both house students and repair or rebuild the ailing school facility.

“We really have had to scramble,” principal John Custer told the Tisbury school committee at a meeting Wednesday morning. “It is a huge, huge challenge, unlike anything I have certainly been involved with before.”

Monday marks the delayed start of school for Tisbury students, after administrators took an extra week to organize the relocation of teachers, staff and some 300 children. Testing last month revealed unsafe lead levels from chipping paint in the old brick school.

Students in grades kindergarten through four will start the school year in shared classrooms in the newer wing of the Tisbury school, crossing the street to eat lunch in the emergency services facility. Students in grades five through eight will occupy classrooms in a contained area that has been cleared at the regional high school. And while final numbers are still not settled, at least a dozen Tisbury children have left the school to enroll in another town for the year. “I’m still getting requests,” Donna Lowell Bettencourt, principal of the West Tisbury School, said this week. She said as of midweek she had received 32 school choice requests from Tisbury students. She said the school was able to accept nine students. In addition, three West Tisbury students who had used school choice to go to the Tisbury School returned to West Tisbury, Ms. Lowell Bettencourt said.

In Oak Bluffs, principal Megan Farrell estimated that she had received 11 school choice requests from Tisbury students and had been able to accept eight students. Principals in Edgartown and Chilmark and at the Vineyard Montessori School all said they had also received requests from Tisbury students.

Mr. Custer said some students who were accepted to other schools had ultimately decided to stay enrolled in Tisbury. He told the school committee Wednesday he had received confirmation that 13 Tisbury students would be attending school in another town.

“Out of a school of roughly 300 kids that’s a big number,” Mr. Custer said. “And there could be more.” School choice was extended last week in light of the problems, and ends Sept. 15.

Exactly how long Tisbury students will remain in temporary locations remains unknown, as school leaders weigh the costs of short-term repairs against eventual plans for a major renovation and addition to the school.

“It seems wasteful of money and also kind of irresponsible to just address the lead issue,” Mr. Custer told the school committee. But obtaining adequate temporary buildings to house students for what could be a years-long building project is also a significant — and time consuming — task.

A temporary campus would need to be sited and designed, modular units would have to be located and vetted, and money would have to be appropriated for the temporary classrooms at a special town meeting.

Town selectmen had initially called a special town meeting for Sept. 24 month to appropriate $1.5 million from the stabilization fund for temporary modular units. This week the date was tentatively changed to Oct. 15, in order to allow time to identify a site for a temporary campus and consult with a newly-hired owner’s project manager.

School committee chairman Amy Houghton told the selectmen Tuesday that $1.5 million will likely not be enough.

“There’s been a lot of research done looking into modulars and talking to three different companies and seeing what’s available. And the amount of money that is in the warrant article will not be sufficient to do that,” she said. Town administrator Jay Grande said the town has about $2.9 million in its stabilization fund.

Also this week, the school building committee interviewed three firms to manage the future building project: Daedelus Projects Inc. of Boston, Architectural Consulting Group of New Bedford and Atlantic Construction and Management of Concord. Each applicant was asked about their experience with modular units.

With advertising deadlines looming and a need for the warrant to be reviewed by the finance committee, town officials noted the scant amount of time to come up with a plan in time for an Oct. 15 special meeting. Mr. Grande said he would provide school leaders with an inventory of town-owned land as possible options for siting modular units. The existing school campus is also under consideration.

Siobhan Mullins, a parent and member of the PTO, urged school leaders not to cut corners at this stage.

“The scope has definitely changed. What we need now is a temporary school. We are not looking for just modular classrooms,” she said. “It’s not just trailers. It’s not just a couple of modular classrooms. It’s a temporary school.”

Plans have changed rapidly since the lead test results were released in late August. At first school leaders said they hoped to conduct lead abatement, estimating the project would take a couple of months. Then as plans shifted to include the installation of temporary modular classrooms, the timeline moved to Christmas. At Wednesday’s school committee meeting, even that date seemed uncertain at times.

Mr. Custer said he did not want to lose the year.

“At some point it becomes too much to expect people to absorb,” he cautioned. “I know education, and I can say that from an education standpoint.”