Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School administrators have made further adjustments to the school’s operating budget for fiscal year 2024, arriving at a slim 2.11 per cent increase over the current budget that runs through June 30, 2023.

“We hope to be worthy of it,” principal Sara Dingledy said at the budget hearing held Dec. 21. “We work really hard … and I’m really proud of the job that we do.”

The high school committee approved the new budget 6-1, with Skipper Manter the lone dissenting vote. The high school committee is expected to certify the FY 2024 budget at its next meeting on Jan. 9.

With a bottom line of $25,099,293, the final draft is slightly tighter than the version Ms. Dingledy presented to the school committee earlier this month, which was 2.32 per cent higher than this year’s $24.58 million.

High school officials — who originally projected a more than five per cent increase — have been pulling in the budgetary belt after a request earlier this year from the six-town committee that developed a cost-sharing formula for the school construction project expected to begin next year.

The all-Island committee of select board members, town administrators and financial officials asked MVRHS to keep its budget within the confines of the state’s Proposition 2 1/2, which since 1980 has required voters’ approval for their municipal budgets to grow by more than 2.5 per cent a year. To pull it off, the high school committee has approved using $669,000 in excess and deficiency funds to offset the towns’ assessment for high school operations.

Excess and deficiency (E and D) is the term used for unspent money that voters previously approved for school use — similar to free cash in town budgets, but with a state-mandated limit on how much a school may retain. Anything above five per cent must be returned to the towns each year.

Tapping E and D, rather than refunding it to the six Island towns, will allow Ms. Dingledy to add in some budget expenditures she’d previously cut — including professional development for teachers as well as funding for them to write new curriculum during summer vacation — while still shaving .21 per cent off the previous draft.

The new budget also restores about $89,000 in capital expenditures that can’t wait for the school’s full acceptance by the Massachusetts School Building Authority program, said Ms. Dingledy, who has found savings elsewhere. The cafeteria hasn’t needed its revolving fund for more than two years, thanks to a state policy of universal free lunches, she said.

Among other savings, $40,000 is coming off the line for substitute teachers, based on sharply-lower expenditures over the past three years, Ms. Dingledy said.

Ms. Dingledy said she also expects to realize about $100,000 in salary savings as teachers retire and are replaced by less-senior staff, although she also asked for $114,000 to increase English instruction by .6 per cent of a full-time position and social studies instruction by .4 per cent.

The school’s population has grown sharply over the past three years, by 90 students, she added.

“Keeping flat staffing … has been a challenge,” Ms. Dingledy said.

In other year-end business, the committee voted to use $120,000 from this year’s contingency fund — which totals $375,000, Ms. Dingledy said — to pay teachers a one-time award of $1,000, in accordance with the union contract ratified earlier this year that also raised salaries by five per cent.

“The teachers have earned that raise,” Ms. Dingledy said.

However, she added, it is likely the school will find enough savings elsewhere in the next six months that it won’t need to tap the contingency line.