Editors, Vineyard Gazette;

Recently the town of West Tisbury denied the 2023-2024 Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School budget in response to the MVRHS school committee’s actions regarding the funding of the appeal in the MA Land Court Case, Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School v. Town of Oak Bluffs.

I wish to explain what this means in terms of moving a budget forward that supports the high school.

According to MA General Laws Part I Title XII Chapter 71, Section 16B: The annual regional school district budget as adopted by a two-thirds vote of the regional school district committee shall require the approval of two-thirds of the local appropriating authorities of the member municipalities (4 of 6 towns)...In the event that the regional school district budget in a regional school district is not approved by at least two-thirds of the member municipalities as required by this section, the regional school district committee shall have thirty days to reconsider, amend and resubmit a budget on the basis of the issues raised.

There is a movement in some other town meetings to follow suit and reject the budget.

Should three of six towns decide to not fund the high school budget, the school committee would need to decide whether to amend and re-vote a new budget or not respond.

If an amended budget is not approved by the committee and the towns, our high school would likely be forced to operate the next school year at a drastically-reduced funding amount. While it is true that the state would step in to ensure continuous funding for the high school, they would do so at the rate of the prior fiscal year’s operating budget. Such a reduction would assuredly lead to a decrease in staffing, programming and services for our high school students.

I ask for the towns’ support of the high school budget as presented. It is a very lean budget reflecting a 2.1 per cent increase. Members of the MVYPS and MVRHS administration and MVRHS high school committee worked diligently to create a budget that is well below the 2.5 per cent limit asked for by our Island’s town leaders — this despite a very large increase of more than 70 students at the high school.

The budget as presented was carefully prepared over several weeks and several iterations to balance decreasing spending while ensuring that our students’ needs would be met. Any further reduction would challenge that balance.

The way to ensure that our high school students have full access to the programming, services and staff that they so richly deserve, is by approving the budget as presented.

I am tremendously grateful for your continued support of our Island’s children.

Richie Smith, Ed.D.

The writer is the superintendent for the Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools.