The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School committee voted Monday in favor of allowing Harbor Homes to operate its winter homeless shelter for another season in the former pre-school building at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, which is planning to demolish the structure next spring.

Shelter manager Lisa Belcastro also asked for permission to increase the number of shelter beds from 22 to 25, saying she expects more Islanders will be unhoused in the winter to come.

“We are definitely seeing more guests and a huge impact from the housing crisis on the island,” Ms. Belcastro told the committee.

Between Nov. 1 and April 20, she said, the shelter had 54 individual guests, of whom 32 — equal to the total number of shelter guests the year before — were visiting for the first time.

Janet Constantino, Maddie Lopes and Lisa Belcastro at recent event at Harbor Homes facility. — Ray Ewing

“A lot of them are working, and they just can’t find affordable year-round housing,” said Ms. Belcastro, adding that 13 of this year’s shelter guests had attended Island public schools.

School committee members said they would not authorize increased capacity for the shelter without input from Oak Buffs officials, and asked Harbor Homes to consult with town manager Deborah Potter and police chief Jonathan Searle before the coming back to the committee.

Town officials were invited to Monday’s meeting, superintendent of schools Richard (Richie) Smith said, but instead they submitted a letter stating the shelter location is “not optimally suited for the intended purpose.”

The letter did not state specific reasons for the town’s position, but Oak Bluffs police lieutenant Nicholas Curelli told the school committee last year that the shelter should be distanced from elderly housing, schools and youth facilities such as the YMCA.

The shelter may need to leave its location off Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road before the usual late-April closing date next year, Ms. Belcastro said, because Martha’s Vineyard Community Services is planning to tear it down to build a new main building for the campus it rents from the high school.

“If they’re on schedule, and that building is scheduled to come down March 1, then we’ll have to regroup...perhaps divide and conquer and go back to the churches,” Ms. Belcastro said.

The winter homeless shelter began as a collaboration among Island churches, which rotated hosting overnight guests until the numbers grew too large to manage with Covid-19 precautions.

Among other business, the high school committee approved a new rental rate structure for the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center, raising fees by 20 per cent and redefining what organizations qualify for an educational rate.

Beginning in July, 2025, commercial rental rates will rise from $2,000 to $2,400 for 10 hours in the center, with additional time at $100 an hour. Technical assistance with lighting and sound is available by the hour as well, performing arts center director Charlie Esposito said.

At Mr. Esposito’s recommendation, the committee agreed to replace its nonprofit rental category with one specifying that only educational support programs serving Island children will qualify for lower, hourly rates with four-hour minimums.

Also Monday, high school principal Sara Dingledy told the committee that five new students have enrolled this month, in accordance with school policy allowing enrollments throughout the school year.

“We enroll anyone who is of school age with the optimistic anticipation that they will enter school [in the fall],” Ms. Dingledy said.

“We say, ‘Welcome to the Island. How can we help? Let’s get you enrolled,” she said.

Monday’s high school committee meeting was expected to be the last for Oak Bluffs school committee representative Kris O’Brien and Edgartown school committee representative Lou Paciello, who are not seeking reelection.

Ms. O’Brien has served three. four-year terms on the high school committee. Mr. Paciello has been a member for the past two years.

However, after the high school building committee voted Tuesday morning on the budget for a $2 million feasibility study that Island voters approved last year, it is likely the current high school committee will call a special meeting soon to authorize the spending.

The feasibility study budget allocates $500,000 to the owner’s project manager, CHA; $1.1 million to Tappé Architects for design work and consulting; $300,000 for miscellaneous expenses such as environmental studies and community outreach and $100,000 in contingencies, for a total of $2 million.