The regional high school was one of 16 schools in the commonwealth to be recognized as a 2019 National Banner School for their unified sports program, coach Ryan Kent told the high school committee this week. The title is bestowed on behalf of the Special Olympics, and it goes to schools that have demonstrated excellence in inclusive sports programs for students of differing abilities.

“It’s quite an honor to be a banner school, and it required a lot of work on Ryan’s behalf and the coaches,” said special education director Hope MacLeod.

Last year, about 14 students played basketball, more than 15 participated in track, and 10 students traveled to an annual boxing tournament through the unified sports program. Students practiced three times a week.

Principal Sara Dingledy said the program was unbudgeted last year and was supported by private funds and grants. She said coaches’ stipends and some other costs will be written into the athletic budget this year.

In other business, the high school committee voted to begin contract negotiations with Huntress Associates Inc. for schematic designs on the school athletic fields. Huntress created a master plan for the project last year. The facilities subcommittee interviewed four firms for the continuation of the project.

The school committee also approved waivers for middle school students to participate in some high school sports including girls’ cross country and cheerleading. Ms. Dingledy said some 290 high school students are participating in fall sports this year.

The committee approved a change to the student handbook to use letter grades rather than number grades. They also revised the athletic handbook to allow students to participate in sports if they are passing 70 per cent of their coursework.

“I know that we’ve always prided ourselves in going above and beyond what the [Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association] requirements are, but we also have an interest in maximizing participation and getting kids who may not always be hitting it out of the park in the classroom out on the field and engaged in school,” Ms. Dingledy said.

The committee also considered hiring a facilitator to guide conversations about the high school’s regional funding agreement. After some discussion, they decided to meet with representatives from Martha’s Vineyard Mediation and from the Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools.

Superintendent of schools Dr. Matthew D’Andrea reported that there are 2,200 students enrolled in Island schools this year, an increase of more than 30 students over last year.

Ms. Dingledy acknowledged that the start of the school year had been challenging due to the relocation of Tisbury School students to high school classrooms and the sudden death of a high school senior, Davin Tackabury. A presentation on talking about trauma with Riverside Trauma Center director Larry Berkowitz was scheduled for Tuesday at 6.