Enrollment has been on the rise in recent years at the Chilmark School, which is on its way to running out of space for the private, nonprofit Chilmark Preschool that shares its campus, principal Susan Stevens said Monday night.

“Our kindergarten this year is 18 [children],” Ms. Stevens told the Up-Island school committee, meeting online.

And that’s just the kindergarteners she knows about. With more than three weeks to go before school opens Sept. 6, more families may be waiting in the wings to enroll their kids. 

“If we even have 10 [more] kindergartners come in, that’s a really big group,” Ms. Stevens said.

While classroom space is adequate for the upcoming year, Ms. Stevens said the school will need more beginning in 2023-’24, leaving less room for the preschool.

Chilmark select board member Warren Doty joined the committee meeting to voice his board’s support for keeping the preschoolers on campus with their older counterparts, who are in kindergarten through fifth grade.

“It’s been a wonderful thing that [the preschool] is integrated into the school life,” Mr. Doty said, noting that all the children share the Chilmark School lunchroom.

“I’d hate to lose that space for the preschool,” Mr. Doty added. “Keeping it where it is is an excellent program as far as the select board is concerned.”

A classroom swap may be possible, said Ms. Stevens.

“One of the rooms we’re using this year for first grade is half the size of the preschool room,” she said. “We have to figure out a way to work around what the building gives us.”

Meanwhile, Chilmark Preschool’s enrollment is also rising, said Deb Zetterberg, a member of the preschool board.

“I think we’re okay for next year, but as Susan says, the year after … we’re also going to see a bubble in the preschool numbers,” Ms. Zettenberg said.

Committee chair Alex Salop asked school district finance director Mark Friedman to explore a potential feasibility study on how the Chilmark School could accommodate both its current K-5 population and the preschoolers who are its future students.

The increased enrollment has included students with special needs, said Ms. Stevens, who asked the committee to approve an additional special education support position.

“We had 54 students at the beginning of the year, and today we have 70,” she said, referring to the total number of students at the school.

Adding a special education support staffer will meet the students’ needs and also provide back-up for other classes, Ms. Stevens said.

“It’s the least expensive way to help everybody,” she said.

Because the position is not budgeted, the school committee agreed to hold an additional August meeting next week to discuss how it can be funded.

Among other business Monday, the committee approved a $558,000 contract with MDM Engineering of Dudley for the long-sought roof and skylight replacement at West Tisbury School. 

After two rounds of town meeting votes, a total of $643,000 has been approved for the project, Mr. Friedman said.

The lowest bid was $489,000 and the highest $824,000, he told the board.

The Chilmark School HVAC replacement has been a knottier problem, because of a lack of information on the building’s architectural details, Mr. Friedman said.

“It was causing some ambiguity and questions from potential bidders,” he said, and that uncertainty has pushed them toward higher bids.

The school committee earlier this summer authorized up to $75,000 for an architect to coordinate planning and details for the HVAC project, and on Tuesday approved a $65,000 contract with Keenan and Kenny Architects of Falmouth that will also include coordinating the school’s separately funded generator project.

The firm also will explore different ways to structure the project’s bidding process, whether as a whole or phased by trade, Mr. Friedman said.

Keenan and Kenny are also the town’s architects for the fire and ambulance building, Mr. Doty said.

“They seem very competent. We’ve been very pleased with them,” he said.

Also Monday, West Tisbury principal Donna Lowell-Bettencourt reported that the school will resume its eighth-grade exchange trips with Bridgewater High School in Cheshire, England next spring.

A school tradition dating to the 1980s, the exchange trips were put on hold during the pandemic.

Ms. Lowell-Bettencourt said she polled parents to see if they’d prefer a different eighth-grade cultural experience next year.

“Almost everyone wanted to return to the U.K. exchange,” she said.

Ms. Lowell-Bettencourt also reported on the school’s five-week summer program, funded through a state grant.

“It was highly successful,” she said. “The attendance was excellent.”

Attendance actually grew after summer school opened, with some students opting for more than they’d originally signed up for, Ms. Lowell-Bettencourt said.

“They asked to come additional weeks; they asked to add days,” she said. “That’s a great success.”

The school is automatically approved for a second-year grant to continue the summer session in 2023, as long as the state money is available, Ms. Lowell-Bettencourt said.