A divided Martha’s Vineyard Regional School committee voted Monday to dedicate additional funding to the district’s lawsuit against the Oak Bluffs planning board over the town board’s denial of an artificial turf playing field at the school.

The school committee voted 5-4 at Monday’s meeting to allocate the funds necessary to complete the lawsuit after the school spent the initial $30,000 in legal fees it had set aside for the case.

The committee decided to not set an upper limit on the legal costs.

“To put a number on this [legal budget] detrimentally impacts our chances of success in the undertaking, which a majority of this committee voted to support,” committee member Kimberly Kirk said as she moved the question.

“I would not like to put a number on it. I want to proceed so that we can finalize … the appeal that we started,” Ms. Kirk continued.

Her motion passed with the support of Michael Watts, Kris O’Brien, Louis Paciello and Kathryn Shertzer. It was opposed by Skipper Manter, Roxanne Ackerman, Robert Lionette and Jen Cutrer.

The Oak Bluffs planning board denied the school's plans for a turf field in May 2022, citing concerns over the effects of PFAS chemicals (per and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in the town water resource protection area.

In an attempt to forge ahead with a new turf field, the school district sued the Oak Bluffs planning board in June, saying that certain provisions of state law exempt school land used for “educational purposes” from some local zoning restrictions.

When the school committee hired Newburyport law firm Mead, Talerman & Costa to sue Oak Bluffs last June, the $30,000 budget was based on the attorneys’ estimate of the time needed for the case.

But district finance director Mark Friedman told the committee Monday that the firm has an additional five hours of work — a total cost of $4,356 — to finish the current phase of the case, in which the high school has requested a summary judgment against the planning board’s decision.

A judge in the state’s land court is expected to set a hearing date for both sides to make their cases later this year.

“We don’t know what will happen at that point,” Mr. Friedman said.

Arguing against Ms. Kirk’s motion Monday, Mr. Manter and Mr. Lionette both expressed ire at the rising legal bills, saying the attorneys should have asked the committee’s permission before submitting invoices that surpass the $30,000 cap.

“I just don’t think it’s appropriate. I think it’s wrong,” Mr. Lionette said.

But Mr. Watts noted that the original $30,000 was based on an estimate and that the school committee has not made a practice of imposing limits on legal fees.

“I don’t know why we’re doing it now,” he said.

Mr. Friedman assured committee members that the additional bills would come nowhere near exhausting the high school’s legal budget line, which stands at $46,000 for the fiscal year ending June 30 with only $20,000 spent.