The Island's new charter school has received 91 admission applications for its first semester this fall, officials said this week.

Applications came from every Island town, plus Chappaquiddick, and represent all eligible age groups.

"I think it's exciting," said school board member Charlotte Costa. "We gave out 140-some applications. To get these back is pretty good, given that it's a new school and it's something different. I was happy with that."

The Vineyard charter school, designed by a group of Island parents, is one of 25 programs statewide that received a charter and the right to state funding under the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993. In its first year, the school will accept 60 students, ages 9 to 14. The roster will be decided by lottery.

The charter school will incorporate many alternative approaches to education, such as individualized courses of study designed by parents and students. But the charter school is more complex than that, so school board members will continue meeting with families, before the lottery, to answer questions.

Probably within the next two weeks, the school board will conduct meetings in small groups -- each of which will probably include four families, two school board members and a representative of the advisory board. School officials are hoping that these meetings can take place on the same day at one location. A date or dates for these sessions will be discussed at the board's Tuesday meeting, scheduled for 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the West Tisbury Library; families will also be contacted individually with current information.

After that, the board will decide how to address any other questions and concerns families still have.

"From this first step, we'll find out what families need more of," Mrs. Costa said. "We'll move from that point. Before we put everybody's name into the hat, we want to make sure they want to go to the next step."

Mrs. Costa reported that, while other preparations for the coming year are going well, school officials are still waiting on passage of legislation that would allow the charter school to function equally for all towns.

The way the state has designed the charter school structure, each school primarily serves one town. Under these rules, the school -- because its campus is in West Tisbury -- would be required to take all West Tisbury applicants before accepting students from other towns.

The legislation, currently in the Senate ways and means committee, states simply that a charter school in a regional school district should be allowed to amend its charter so it can draw equally from all towns in its region. The amendment is not specific to the Vineyard because another charter school, in western Massachusetts, is in need of a similar ruling.

Noting that some members of the school board, including herself, are West Tisbury parents, Mrs. Costa said she hopes people realize that the board is working to pass the legislation. The school board includes parents from other towns, too, and all want the school to function as a learning center for the whole Island, Mrs. Costa said.

"The real thrust of the board is that this be a regional project," she said. "It's supposed to set an example that all of us can work together from the sending towns to establish an environment which is the charter school."

Rep. Eric Turkington said that the legislation has been stalled because of general controversy about charter schools. The Senate in particular has been reluctant to act on the legislation out of fear of reopening a broader debate on the issue.

Now, Mr. Turkington said, he and other legislators have crafted a different version of the legislation which might be more palatable for the Senate. He hopes it will be passed in a few weeks.

"They didn't want to reopen the debate by having any charter school legislation go through," Mr. Turkington said. "They've said we're not going to take legislation on this topic because once we've opened the door, people will want to come in. The governor would want to open it up so more charter schools could open. The public teachers' association, if they though that it was back on the table, they'd start a big fight to shut down all the charter schools.

The Senate's position was 'let it be.'

"It has nothing to do with the Vineyard's situation at all. The Vineyard has a perfectly reasonable case for wanting to draw from the whole Island. We're doing what we can to speed it up."