The job of assistant superintendent of public schools on Martha’s Vineyard remains unposted, more than a month after longtime assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction Richie Smith became the district’s top official July 1.

“We will eventually fill the position; it may not be an assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction,” Mr. Smith told the all-Island school committee during an online meeting Thursday.

“I want to make sure that before we hire the position as it was historically built, that we consider areas such as human resources, operations and some other tasks and responsibilities [in which] right now, there are some gaps in what we’re doing and there are redundancies in what we’re doing,” Mr. Smith said.

When he was chosen earlier this year to replace departing superintendent Dr. Matthew D’Andrea, Mr. Smith told the school committee he wanted to hold the assistant superintendent’s position open until he could restructure the district’s central office, which supports the five town schools and the regional high school with programs including special education, early childhood education and speech and language therapy.

Mr. Smith said Thursday he is taking part this week in a three-day cabinet retreat with school principals, during which he would consult with them on how district services can be improved.

“Then I will gather input from all of you as far as what you feel and from a school committee perspective is necessary in the central office,” Mr. Smith said.

Among other business Thursday, the school committee ratified a new three-year contract with the district’s administrative support personnel. The agreement includes annual pay raises beginning with 2 per cent in the first year.

“We’re not calling it a COLA [cost of living adjustment],” said committee member Kate DeVane, who leads the labor negotiations subcommittee.

The 27 workers covered by the agreement also receives a $1,000, one-time payment in the first year, she said.

“It is the same amount of money no matter whether you’re earning $100,000 or $36,000. We’ve been doing this… all along to try and give everybody a level of relief,” Ms. DeVane said.

The school committee voted unanimously in favor of the new contract, effective retroactively to July 1.

Negotiations with the teachers union have been at a standstill, Ms. DeVane told the committee, after four rounds of mediation earlier this year failed to bring the two sides together.

The district and union now are waiting to have an arbitrator assigned to their case by the state department of labor, Ms. DeVane said.

“We’re sort of in a holding pattern,” she said.

“Everybody feels like we worked really hard at it,” Ms. DeVane added. “We were extremely disappointed, at the last round of mediation, not to get there.”

But the teachers union is ready to come back to the table, union member Gina Patti said during the public comment period of Thursday’s meeting.

“We actually have a proposal currently and we thought that it would be best to put it through our previous mediator…so that’s what I did today,” Ms. Patti said.

“I expect that I’ll be hearing from him, Gina,” Ms. DeVane said. “We’re happy to talk.”

Labor agreements are posted on the school district website at

Also Thursday, the school committee agreed to temporarily increase the district’s part-time grant administration position to a full-time job for the next year.

The job of overseeing how the district spends its grant money, and documenting compliance with the terms of the funding, has grown from a less than half-time position to an 80 per cent of full-time position over the past several years, Mr. Smith said.

“The [grant] monies that are coming in are actually compelling the need to move up,” he said.

Covid-era federal ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund) grants have ramped up the need for an administrator, district finance director Mark Friedman said.

“They have to be tracked and reported, with reference with how [the money] is being spent at each school,” Mr. Friedman said.

Committee chair Skipper Manter objected on principle with using any portion of granted funds to pay for administration, rather than for the purpose of the grant.

“One hundred per cent should go to the program,” Mr. Manter said.

But Ms. DeVane said that increasingly, grants to schools include a portion toward the cost of administering the funding.

“There’s a huge school of thought these days that denying nonprofits and school systems that are accepting grants the ability to use the money to properly [administer] the grants is very damaging to what the nonprofits or school systems are trying to do,” she said.

Mr. Manter voted with the rest of the committee in favor of the one-year job enlargement.

The school committee also agreed Thursday to move its monthly meeting to third Wednesdays, beginning this month, to accommodate the schedule of its new note-taker, Juliet Mulinare.