The up-Island regional district school committee voted Monday night to certify a $12.6 million budget for the coming fiscal year, roughly a three per cent increase over last year.

Added spending for special education, building insurance in West Tisbury and a new janitorial position in Chilmark all contributed to the increase.

The school district serves elementary school students in the three up-Island towns, who attend school in Chilmark and West Tisbury.

The FY 21 budget has been trimmed somewhat from an earlier, $12.8 million draft reviewed by the school committee late last year.

A vote on the budget was delayed in December due to a posting error.

Because health insurance costs remain unsettled, the budget is expected to change again.

A second meeting has been called for Friday for possible recertification of the budget, including health insurance costs.

On Monday the final vote on the budget was 4-1. Committee member Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter 3rd was the lone dissenter, voting against the budget because health insurance costs were still unknown.

Other discussion centered on future plans to hire a school resource officer (SRO), who would share duties between the two schools.

The SRO proposal is expected to come before voters in the up-Island towns at annual town meetings this spring.

“We need a very clear definition of what an SRO does. We can’t just go to town meeting and ask what do you want an SRO to do,” said committee member Alex Salop.

The committee’s plan is to put together a document with their definition of what an SRO does. They will then take it to town meetings with information for voters.

“I think frankly we have to understand what guidance means. If we’re going to provide guidance and it’s not codified in the warrant article, how do people know what they’re getting?” Mr. Salop said.

Superintendent Matt D’Andrea agreed, saying he thinks having a clear-cut definition prior to town meeting is the right thing to do. He also said at future school committee meetings the public should be invited to participate in discussions of what having an SRO means for the school. “There’s going to be a lot of questions about what the role is, we need to be very clear and communicate as much as we can,” Mr. D’Andrea said.

In separate school-related warrant articles, up-Island voters will also be asked to help pay for renovations to the West Tisbury School roof and new windows at the Chilmark School.

In other business Monday, Chilmark School principal Susan Stevens said The Sound Foundation of West Tisbury has donated $3,950 for an after-school yoga program.

West Tisbury principal Donna Lowell-Bettencourt said the West Tisbury police department has donated $920 to be put toward the school scholarship fund.

Ms. Lowell-Bettencourt also reported that the number of students out sick with the flu has abated. “We have spent extra time cleaning in the school, particularly all surfaces, door handles and bathrooms,” the principal said.

She also praised the West Tisbury School PTO and music teacher Alexis MacTaylor for the recent K-4 and seventh grade concert, and the boys and girls basketball teams for their appearances in the championship.

Ms. Stevens noted two school-wide projects hanging in the lobby of the Chilmark School. One is a dream catcher project, where students wrote a wish for the world on one side of their piece and on the other side they wrote what they would do to make that wish happen. The other project centered around Martin Luther King Jr. day, where students wrote what they would stand up for; responses were made into a large paper chain in a show of unity.

Committee members also heard a presentation from Donna Swift, music teacher at the Chilmark School, about the importance of integrating arts into the curriculum.