Inking staff salary increases and a handful of new positions, the up-Island school committee last week approved the fifth and final draft of a $13 million district-wide operating budget for the new year.

The FY 2022 budget, which reflects a 4.6 per cent increase over last year, was certified in a 4-1-0 vote. The up-Island budget funds programs for elementary school students in the three up-Island towns, who attend school in Chilmark and West Tisbury.

The budget total is expected to change in the coming months, with health insurance and property insurance not yet finalized, business administrator Mark Friedman told the committee.

Contractual increases in salaries for faculty and staff — totaling just under $185,000 — make up the largest portion of the new budget, which came in just over $580,000 larger than last year’s.

The district contribution to the Islandwide superintendent’s budget was also among the draft’s larger line items, with a $110,300 portion to keep step with an 8.6 per cent increase to the superintendent’s budget, approved at a recent all-Island committee meeting.

Other region-specific staffing needs, including hiring a full-time nurse and adding an education support professional to the Chilmark School, constituted an additional $64,000 of the budget’s increases. Incremental additions, like an estimated five per cent increase to staff health insurance premiums for the year, totaled $106,000.

The district also added its annual $50,000 increase in contributions to the Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) line — pre-determined by the up-Island financial committees — into the document.

The budget saw some trimming since previous drafts were reviewed by the committee earlier in December, though certain increases were non-negotiable, chairman Alex Salop said during the meeting, a video recording shows.

“We largely trust our school heads and principals to make decisions regarding what is needed on a line-item basis,” said Mr. Salop. “I think there is a consensus of opinion that this is the absolute minimum we can afford to have and still offer the level of services to our students and families that we expect to offer in the school district.”

Mr. Friedman also noted that a series of five warrant articles for school building projects were not included in the draft. The projects include repairs to the exterior doors and windows at the Chilmark School, as well as the installation of a new roof, a walk-in freezer and an elevator at the West Tisbury School. The projects are pending approval from voters in the up-Island towns, Mr. Friedman said.

A single amendment was proposed by committee members Robert Lionette and Kate DeVane to relocate the up-Island contingency lines to the regional portion of the budget, rather than breaking the item down town-by-town.

“It is one of the benefits of being a district that those funds can be allocated at that moment in an emergency fashion where they are needed,” said Mr. Lionette during the meeting. “I would be very, very concerned that this breaks things down to a level of minutia that works against the essence of how we have functioned for a decade.”

The change would shift assessments for each town, but maintain the $13.1 million bottom-line assessment for the district, Mr. Friedman said.

Taking the proposal in stride, the committee voted 4-1-0 to accept the budget and the assessments with Mr. Lionette’s change, certifying the document in time for the start of the new year.

Committee member Skipper Manter, who expressed concern over shifting the contingency lines, cast the lone nay vote.