The fate of the regional high school budget could be decided next week by Chilmark voters, who are also being asked to send a strong anti-turf message when they gather for a special town meeting.

Residents will convene at 7 p.m. at the Chilmark Community Center on Monday to handle the 10-article warrant. The meeting was called to reconsider the town’s $993,112 portion of the high school budget after Chilmark, West Tisbury and Aquinnah all voted down the financial plan at their annual town meetings this spring.

The budget has been the rope in a political tug of war over the school’s pursuit of an artificial turf playing field. The school is suing the Oak Bluffs planning board after the board rejected the controversial proposal in 2022.

The lawsuit and legal spending on it prompted backlash in the up-Island towns, resulting in all three amending their portions of the budget to zero. The budget needs approval by four of the six Island towns to pass overall. School committee members say they are currently working to settle the lawsuit with the Oak Bluffs planning board and vowed not to use any of the 2024 legal budget for the field appeal.

In addition to the budget, which is the exact one they had rejected at the April town meeting, voters will also be able to weigh in on two non-binding resolutions that would send a clear anti-artificial turf sentiment to school officials.

The first petitioned article asks that the regional high school commit to an all-grass campus “with no plastic fields.” The second asks the school to commit to not using any anonymous donations of more than $5,000 for legal action, experts, project design and permitting related to any plastic fields on the high school campus.

The non-binding resolutions, which are also on the Aquinnah June 14 special town meeting warrant, can’t force officials to do anything, but would express a public mandate for change.

In the past, school officials said the field could be paid for through private donations. At a regional school committee earlier this spring, member Kris O’Brien said that the field should not be part of the budget discussion because it will be privately funded.

In a telephone interview Thursday, schools superintendent Richie Smith said there’s been a lot of speculation around the project, which would also update the running track, but that fundraising wouldn’t start until it was approved.

“We haven’t moved forward on seeking donors or creating a donor list, to my knowledge,” said Mr. Smith.

The district has explored using the Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation or another agency as the conduit for donations should the athletic facility overhaul go forward, but the school hasn’t gotten to that point yet, Mr. Smith said.

Mr. Smith added that, to his knowledge, the district hadn’t talked about using private donations for continued legal spending.

It is unclear what shape a settlement could take and discussions have happened in closed-door sessions.

At a meeting last week, regional school chairman Robert Lionette said the committee had sent a settlement proposal to Oak Bluffs two weeks prior, and he was “cautiously optimistic” that things were progressing.

Oak Bluffs planning board chair Ewell Hopkins said he was frustrated that these discussions were happening in private executive sessions.

“The idea that we are having these conversations exclusively in executive session, to me, undermines the importance of public transparency on such a visible and public issue,” he said.

Mr. Lionette led the charge against the school budget at the Chilmark annual town meeting, making the motion to zero out the budget. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment this week on his outlook for the special town meeting.

If Chilmark voters pass the budget, it would pass overall. If they fail to pass the budget, budget approval will hinge on a reconsideration vote in one of the other two up-Island towns. If a new budget isn’t passed by the start of the new fiscal year in July, the school would operate under the 2023 budget, doled out in monthly installments.

West Tisbury, the first town to stand against the budget, will consider its portion of the school budget at a June 13 special town meeting. Aquinnah’s meeting is the following day.

Mr. Smith said he thinks voters understand the importance of the budget, and hopefully would support it. He also said that if the planning board and the school committee can find resolution, he would support revamping the aging athletic fields and track.

“We certainly need a track and a field,” he said.

At their special town meeting, Chilmark residents will also take up articles to pay for a new ambulance, a full-time building inspector and a sound system for the community center. The warrant also has an article that, if passed, would allow businesses to deliver marijuana in Chilmark.

Chilmark select board chair Bill Rossi said he expected the non-binding resolutions would bring voters out again. He planned to vote for the school budget, though he couldn’t predict how the meeting crowd could go.

“Personally, I plan on supporting all the spending articles, for sure,” he said. “I don’t expect a lot of drama there. I think it will be pretty straightforward.”