Chilmark voters approved the regional school budget at a special town meeting Monday night, ending a tense standoff between up-Island towns and the school over the school’s ongoing artificial turf lawsuit.

In a clear voice vote, residents passed the town’s $993,112 portion of the budget, giving the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School the fourth and final town it needed to get the budget to pass overall.

The vote will come as a relief to school administrators who have been working at formulating a temporary budget in case the proposed fiscal year 2024 budget wasn’t approved by the end of June.

Chilmark voters buckle in for special town meeting Monday. — Ray Ewing

The regional school needs two-thirds of its member towns to approve a budget. Chilmark, West Tisbury and Aquinnah all rejected the regional school budget at their annual town meetings earlier this spring. Each cited the school’s pursuit of a turf field, and the ongoing legal costs of the endeavor, as some of the reasons they voted against the financial plan.

The school sued the Oak Bluffs planning board in 2022 after the board denied the school’s proposal for a field.

Robert Lionette, the chairman of the regional school board and the Chilmark voter who made the motion to zero out the budget at the annual town meeting, kicked off the discussion Monday by asking voters to approve the budget this time around.

“Six weeks ago… the school committee voted to spend a potentially unlimited amount of money on a lawsuit,” Mr. Lionette said on town meeting floor.

After Chilmark and West Tisbury voted down the budget, the regional school committee said it would settle the lawsuit and vowed to not use any of the 2024 budget for the legal challenge.

With those caps in place, Mr. Lionette was more comfortable and called for the budget to pass.

Settlement discussions for the school’s suit are ongoing. School and Oak Bluffs officials have declined to talk about what form a settlement could take, though at last week’s school committee meeting, members did talk about the need to find a funding mechanism for a new athletic facility should the legal resolution allow it.

If the budget wasn’t approved by Chilmark or any of the other up-Island towns before July, the start of the next fiscal year, the school would have begun operating on monthly installments of the previous year’s budget.

That budget was $518,000 less than the 2024 budget.

Later on at town meeting, voters also sent a clear anti-turf message to administrators through a pair of non-binding resolution articles.

Filed by citizen’s petition, Chilmark town meeting passed resolutions that ask the regional high school to commit to an all-grass campus with “no plastic fields,” and to not use any anonymous donations larger than $5,000 for legal action, experts, project design and permitting related to any fields at the high school.

The donation resolution originally had language that pertained only to plastic fields but it was amended on town meeting floor. The resolutions do not force the school to take any action.

Voters also passed an article to allow marijuana products to be delivered in town, approved $40,000 for a new building inspector position and moved $225,000 from the ambulance receipts fund to buy a new ambulance.

There was approximately 125 residents in attendance at the hour long meeting.