This spring, town meeting voters across the Island will see significantly higher proposed school budgets for the next fiscal year, with percentage increases ranging from more than 7 per cent to nearly 12 per cent.

School administrators are still working to pare down costs before town meetings, but say certain expenses are unalterable.

Pay raises for school and district staffers, most of whom are in the second year of a three-year union contract with agreed-upon annual increases, account for much of the coming year’s budget bump at every campus.

A 14.5 per cent increase in the budget for shared services, which are provided to all schools from Island superintendent Richard (Richie) Smith’s offices in Vineyard Haven, is another driver of this year’s higher spending plans.

“The shared programs’ budget increase is historically high. It’s the highest since I’ve been on the Island,” said Mr. Smith, who has worked in Island schools for more than 20 years, at a Tisbury school committee meeting Jan. 9.

The total shared services budget, which is divided among the school districts, is $9.3 million for the coming fiscal year, finance director Mark Friedman said.

The centralized spending plan covers business and grant administration for every school, along with educational support for English-language learners and students with disabilities; speech and behavioral programs; physical, occupational and psychological therapy and a range of other services such as music lessons.

More than $650,000 of the shared services hike will go to increasing support for children in early grades who have special needs, Mr. Smith said, while another $380,000 is staff pay hikes required by contract.

At its January meeting, the Tisbury school committee approved an 11.7 per cent increase of more than $973,000, for a total budget of $9.2 million in the fiscal year beginning July 1. 

Shared services are 3.73 per cent of the Tisbury increase, Tisbury school committee chair Amy Houghton said.

Projected higher expenses for Tisbury include skilled maintenance staff to keep the new, all-electric school running properly when it opens this fall.

“It’s not a janitor type job,” school committee member Michael Watts said.

Tisbury was the last school committee to certify a draft budget for town meeting, Mr. Friedman said.

The up-Island regional district, representing the Chilmark and West Tisbury schools, approved a 9.4 per cent higher spending plan of $16 million he said.

In Oak Bluffs, the proposed school budget is going up 8.55 per cent, to $10.6 million, and Edgartown’s is rising 7.18 per cent, to $16 million.

Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School committee members last month certified a comparatively modest 5.85 per cent increase, for a proposed $26.5 million spending plan in the fiscal year to come.