The Tisbury School needs more than classrooms to properly educate and care for the children in its charge, school committee member Mike Watts told town selectmen during an overview of the school’s education program Wednesday night.

“It’s not sticking kids in a classroom where they all sit in little rows,” Mr. Watts said. “That type of education is pretty much gone these days. Our environment is very different now. Kids are educated in the modern world.”

The 90-year-old school is on the threshold of a renovation project, and architects will use the educational program to guide them as they redesign the interior.

Mr. Watts said the school population, 288 children in kindergarten through eighth grade this academic year, has diverse needs that often call for smaller, more private learning and counseling spaces.

Among other things he noted that Tisbury also has a large number of English language learner students, representing four or five home languages.

The school nurse and visiting specialists — child psychologists, social workers and therapists — as well as two full-time counselors also lack sufficient privacy when they meet with children and parents.

Music students, both vocal and instrumental, need places to practice. “It would be great if the kids weren’t playing their instruments in the hallway,” Mr. Watts said.

Modern teaching methods that emphasize the real-world skills of teamwork and collaboration also require more intimate settings.

“We do a lot of team teaching and small group teaching,” Mr. Watts said. “We’re doing a lot more project-based learning (because) we’re in this instantly collaborative world.”

The school library and lunchroom must also meet greater demands than in generations past, Mr. Watts said.

“As education has changed, so have media centers,” he said. “People are looking at them very differently from the traditional books on shelves.”

The complete 26-page educational program is posted on the Tisbury School website (

Selectmen agreed to vote on formal approval of the program at their first meeting in January.

In other business Wednesday, selectmen approved requests from harbor master John Crocker to tie the Owen Park pumpout station to the town sewer system, and from the owners of La Soffitta and Waterside Market to increase water use at 80 Main street, where a new restaurant is planned.

Finance director Jon Snyder told the board that the state Department of Revenue has notified him of more than 300 short-term rentals that have registered to pay required taxes.

While the town has not set up its own registration process, Mr. Snyder said he will enclose a letter in the next round of property tax bills reminding homeowners that state registration is required for short-term rentals.

Selectmen also appointed Myra Stark to the town library board of trustees, renewed Ben Robinson’s appointment to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, and authorized town administrator Jay Grande to send a letter to the town’s insurer declaring a loss of $266,000 on the harbor master’s boat, which sank at its berth earlier this year.

At the start of their meeting, which drew about 25 people to the holiday-decked Tisbury senior center, selectmen heard a presentation from the Massachusetts Department of Coastal Zone Management on the procedure for declaring a designated port area.

The state designation preserves marine industry uses within its boundaries, similar to the way designated nature areas protect natural resources, by limiting other activities, department director Lisa Engler told the board.

She said the process has strict regulations for eligibility and is designed for areas that include multiple waterfront properties.

If Ralph Packer, owner of the proposed Tisbury marine terminal that would serve offshore wind farms, seeks a designation covering only his property, it would be an unprecedented application, Ms. Engler said.

“The idea is that it is a regional asset,” she said.

Selectmen meet next on Dec. 17 at 4 p.m.