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Tisbury School to Ask for $1.5 Million for Temporary Modular Buildings

School officials, parents, and Tisbury selectmen wrestled last night with the fallout over what to do with students after lead paint was found in the Tisbury School.

The Tisbury School Committee and selectmen held a joint meeting Tuesday night to update the community on the path moving forward and what to do with some nearly 300 potentially displaced students.

Superintendent of schools Matthew D’Andrea, speaking after the meeting, said it was a successful meeting in that it was well attended and parents could voice their concerns for the project moving forward.

Parents, he said, were also able to express their frustrations. Superintendent D’Andrea said that much of the frustration from parents has been aimed at the town’s board of selectmen who were against building a new school last year.

The Tisbury school building has long been a contentious topic in town. Last year, with promised reimbursements from the Massachusetts School Building Authority, the town voted against funding a completely new building by a margin of only 19 votes.

The school was then faced with what to do with the old building, which dates back to the 1920s.

Meanwhile, teachers in the school complained of air quality problems, and some asked the school administration to investigate.

In August, a state entity advised the school against holding classes in parts of the school because of chipping lead paint.

D'Andrea said that classes for grades Kindergarten to 4th grade will be held in the newer section of the Tisbury school, away from the lead paint. Grades 5 through 8 will go to the high school.

A Special Town Meeting is planned for the end of September to ask for $1.5 million to pay for temporary, modular buildings. All grades would be held in those classrooms while a renovation project is carried out at the school.

On Tuesday, a number of parents lashed out at selectmen for not supporting the new school project last year. At the time, a number of selectmen sent a letter to a local newspaper asking taxpayers to vote down the new school building.

Superintendent D’Andrea said those concerns were aired on Tuesday. Some parents called for the resignation of some selectmen.

But D’Andrea said that safety and providing an education to students is the main concern he’s heard from parents, and is what he is focused on.

“The parents’ main concern now is the safety of their children,” D’Andrea said. “So that’s our focus as school administrators: to make sure we put the students in a safe environment where they can be properly educated.”

He says he is confident with the plan going forward.

But some parents also have concerns about the overall cost of the temporary, modular buildings. Those complaints will likely resurface at the September Town Meeting.

Sam Houghton left CAI in February, 2023, to become News Editor at the Martha's Vineyard Times.
He worked at CAI since the summer of 2017. Before that, he worked at the Falmouth Enterprise, where he covered local politics.