The embattled Tisbury School renovation and addition project took another step forward this week when work to gut the school gym began.

The gym elevator was decommissioned on August 17, and workers have begun to remove hazardous materials known to be in the building, school committee chair Amy Houghton said in an email update.

“The gym will not be disconnected from the rest of the school, as originally anticipated, to [ensure] that moisture does not get in the building in the event that the ask for additional funds is rejected by the town residents,” Ms. Houghton wrote, referring to the $26 million borrowing article that will come before voters at a special town meeting on Sept. 20.

Whether or not the additional funds are approved, the gym work will go on, Ms. Houghton added.

“Note that the abatement will continue inside the gym to eliminate hazardous materials and systems that are antiquated and would need replacement regardless of decisions about the gym structure,” her email continued. “To be clear, the gym will be gutted internally to rid the school of hazardous materials. We are working with the building inspector and fire chief to ensure that all safety and fire precautions are in place.”

Two trees outside the gym were removed last week because they were diseased, wrote Ms. Houghton, and a third may have to follow if it is found to be unhealthy.

All three trees were slated to come down August 10, but work was suspended for the day when town resident Anna Edey staged a one-woman protest against their removal.

Ms. Houghton described the incident, and its aftermath, in her email.

“Ms. Edey, a member of the town climate committee, arrived on the school grounds with what appeared to be a weapon — barbeque forks,” Ms. Houghton wrote.

“Similar action by a staff or student of the school would have resulted in suspension and, likely removal from the school community. Many parents and staff have communicated their concern about this behavior and a perceived downplaying of the actions by other residents and the police,” she continued.

The school committee chair also reported that contractors’ guaranteed maximum prices for the project have come in slightly lower than anticipated. While the town is asking voters for $26 million in addition to the $55 million authorized last year for the school project, Ms. Houghton reported that guaranteed minimum bids for the project now total some $500,000 less than previously estimated.

“We will strive to find more savings as the project continues,” she wrote.

Tisbury School families will begin receiving project updates next week, Ms. Houghton wrote, and a funding channel is being set up for private donations to the project.

More information is posted at