Chilmark voters will take up several education-centered articles at annual town meeting next week, including a $2.2 million request for facilities upgrades at the Chilmark School, a proposed lease of town land to the nonprofit Chilmark preschool and Island-wide questions concerning a revamp of the regional high school.

The 27-article town meeting will take place Monday at 7 p.m. at the Chilmark Community Center, with a quorum of 25 voters. Janet Weidner will serve as moderator.

Residents will decide the $13.5 million budget, an 8.12 per cent increase over last year. Developing the budget was a challenge this year, the first time it has been done in-person since Covid, said town administrator Tim Carroll.

“It was hard to get back in the swing of things as a group,” Mr. Carroll said, noting that the process was lengthened by a few budget increases. A rise in cost of living required the town to budget for a 7 per cent overall increase to employee pay this year, he said. The first debt payments for the new fire and ambulance buildings also drove up costs.

One of the largest spending requests is a $2.2 million debt exclusion to replace the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at the Chilmark School. But based on reactions to the article at a public hearing this week, Mr. Carroll doesn’t anticipate much controversy.

“There were very few public questions at the hearing,” he said.

The article will need a two-thirds majority and further approval at the annual town election. Voters had already appropriated $950,000 for the project at a November special town meeting. The new funding request would rescind that previous allocation, bundling the borrowing into a single article.

Mr. Carroll also said he anticipates support for the article proposing to lease town land for the Chilmark preschool to construct their own building.

“The community would like to keep the preschool where it is” he said, explaining it originated with a town request for proposals to start a feeder program for the town school. Run by local residents as a nonprofit, the program began by using surplus classrooms in the existing school building. As enrollment has grown, both programs need additional space.

The warrant article proposes to release a request for proposals to construct a separate preschool building, with a capacity for 32 students, on land adjacent to the school.

One topic at town meeting that is likely to generate some debate, is the high school operating budget. Last week, West Tisbury voters rejected the budget after raising concerns about the school’s lawsuit with the Oak Bluffs planning board after the board denied the school’s plan for a new turf field.

At a select board meeting Tuesday, outgoing board member Warren Doty encouraged voters to approve the budget.

“I know someone’s going to bring it up at town meeting,” he said. “The high school principal does a great job of running that school…I would hate to see us vote down the high school budget.”

Mr. Carroll agreed.

“Hopefully we don’t make the education of our children about plastic and grass,” he said.

Chilmark will weigh in on the new regional spending agreement for the high school, and on whether to fund a portion of a $2 million feasibility study to rehabilitate or construct a new building for the school.

According to that new agreement, Chilmark’ share comes to $165,200, requiring two-thirds vote and approval on the ballot.

A spending request to fulfill Chilmark’s $297,998 share in the Up-Island Regional School District will also require a two-thirds vote and approval on the ballot.

A citizen petition to allow four liquor licenses in Chilmark, the last remaining dry town on the Vineyard, is also on the warrant, but Mr. Carroll said the petitioner was expected to withdraw the article on town meeting floor.

Voters will also decide on changes to the town’s pool zoning bylaws, along with a series of smaller budget requests including $150,000 for the Peaked Hill Pastures affordable housing project and $315,000 for the fire department to purchase a new fire truck.

After the meeting on Monday, the town election will take place Wednesday, April 26 from noon to 8 p.m., also at the community center.