Early Learning Center considers fundraiser, lease and accreditation
Finding itself without a quorum at its Oct. 2 meeting, the five members of the Block Island Early Learning Center (ELC) Board of Directors present decided to hold an informal discussion on several issues. As it is not a municipal entity, the board can hold a discussion without a quorum, provided no votes are taken. In attendance were President Lisa Robb, Secretary Deborah Hart, Heather Hatfield, Kate Mello and Martha Velie-Gass. ELC Director Christina Grele was present as well.
Among issues considered were a review of the recent Motoring Event, waiting for a lease and a progress report on the accreditation process.
According to Grele, the motoring fundraiser had gone well on the whole, with $6,700 of revenues received to date and expenses still being calculated. She said while there had been a good turnout of people, it was still hard to determine how much the annual fundraiser brought in. The group discussed whether or not it might work better in the future not to split the event into three locations.
This year, cars were shown in the field behind the Oar, some boats at a beach location and three planes at the airport. Board members thought the whole program might be brought to the airport in the future, but they postponed a vote to a future meeting.
The lease and accreditation
In a lease update, which occurred after the meeting was held, Velie-Gass reported that the board received a new lease from Block Island Economic Development (BIED), which is currently being reviewed. The last lease expired in December of 2012.
In the meantime, the group discussed the Old Harbor Meadows Community Corporation (OHMCC), which has been meeting for the past six or seven months.
OHMCC was described as a new organization, comprised of members of BIED, of the ELC board and of the Old Meadows Housing units, and formed as a separate corporation that might eventually manage the Community Center building.
In a report on the accreditation process, Grele assured members that she and the staff were “getting close to having all materials in” to the accrediting agency, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). She added that the agency had extended the deadline to the end of October. Grele felt good about having the necessary materials and details.
Robb suggested having board members and/or parents help with a checklist to make certain nothing was overlooked.
Grele also spoke about Parents’ Night noting it had drawn in approximately a third of the 20 or so parents of the 36 students enrolled at the ELC. She said the best part was the teachers’ discussion of their classrooms and of parents’ discussion of volunteer hours.
Parents are required to put in five volunteer hours per quarter or pay a $100 fee per quarter to cover needed tasks such as a dump run, snow removal, writing thank-you notes and taking on cleaning nights.
With the terms of several current board members concluding, the group discussed finding replacements. They also considered changing the number of board members from 10 to a smaller number — seven was suggested — but a determination was left to the next meeting. Under consideration were sources for board members. It was thought that two must be appointed by the New Shoreham Teachers Association, at least one should be a town employee and one appointed as a representative from Town Hall. Further discussion was tabled for a future meeting.
Other issues discussed focused on smaller fundraisers such the annual raffle of a liquor basket. Usually held on New Year’s Day, the event needed a new venue since the group anticipated the Yellow Kittens would not be available. Also, there was discussion of where the wrapping of holiday gifts should take place during the week leading up to the Christmas Stroll.
Velie-Gass, who is one of the board members whose term is up, asked about standing policies. She asked whether or not “some initiatives have been dropped.” For example, she referred to a parent education lecture series that had begun some years earlier that seemed to have been dropped.
Also, she said, “At one time we decided to divorce ourselves from a liquor-related event.” She said she just wanted to understand what had happened to those policies.
In looking ahead to the next meeting scheduled for November 6, board members agreed at that time they wanted to have updates on the playground, the lease and accreditation. They also asked Grele to have the teachers submit brief updates to the board each month, including on professional development.