When the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School added American Sign Language to its world languages offerings, where it joined Latin, Portuguese and other spoken-language courses, administrators were in for a surprise.
“It is wildly popular,” principal Sara Dingledy told the high school district committee during a public online meeting Monday night.
“We got 105 requests for ASL,” Ms. Dingledy said. The student body numbers about 700 in total.
To accommodate all the students who want to take the course, Ms. Dingledy requested an increase in the teaching position from half to full time next year.
She also requested a half-time biology position, noting that English learners at the school must take science more than once — first as newcomers and again once they’ve acquired some language — essentially doubling the teaching load.
“As we reassess next year . . . we may need to increase our science staff,” Ms. Dingledy said, as the school year nears an end.
Both hires would be funded through personnel money the school has budgeted for this year but found ways not to spend, Ms. Dingledy said.
Among other business Monday, the committee authorized spending up to $20,000 to install chargers for two new electric school buses that were purchased with funds from the Volkswagen emissions-cheating settlement.
The district has contingency funds in its transportation budget that will more than cover the installation costs, finance director Mark Friedman said.
A series of requests to lease buses from the school led to a split vote, with Skipper Manter, Kris O’Brien and chairman Amy Houghton voting nay. “It’s a liability nightmare,” Mr. Manter said. “Let the VTA lease their buses out.”
The rest of the committee voted in favor of a policy allowing the leases, to Elaine Weintraub for tours of the African American Heritage Trail, to the town of Edgartown to bring bands from the ferry to the July 4 parade and back, and to basketball coach Mike Joyce for club team travel to tournaments.
Also Monday, the committee completed its exhaustive review of the all-Island agreement that spells out how individual towns share the costs of operating the school.
Ms. Houghton and school district Nancy Campany led the committee item by item through the remaining articles of the more than 60-year-old document, which requires extensive updating in order to meet the current rules of the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).
While the agreement’s language has been revised, the cost-sharing formula for the school’s operating budget — based almost entirely on school enrollment from individual towns — remains in place.
An all-Island committee of top town officials last week approved a separate formula for the capital costs of constructing a new high school with assistance from the Massachusetts School Building Authority.
But that agreement, based 70 peer cent on enrollment and 30 per cent on town property values, applies …….