The Block Island Times
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Early Learning Center elects new board members

By Gloria S. Redlich | Nov 15, 2013

The Block Island Early Learning Center (ELC) has three new members: Missy Lemoine, Chelsea Phelan Redd and Dave Turner. The election was held at the board’s annual meeting on Nov. 6.

Five names were offered in candidacy for the three board posts: Lemoine, Kristine Monje, Jessica Pollard, Redd and Turner. In a paper ballot, the group selected Lemoine, Redd and Turner.

The board also thanked five members whose terms were ending. President Lisa Robb presented flowers to four of the five exiting members: Nancy Coles, Gretta Heinz, Stacy Henshaw and Martha Velie-Gass. Heather Hatfield, whose term was also ending, was not present.

The shift in the number of members is the result of a vote the board took at its October meeting, during which the ELC board had voted to reduce its numbers from 10 to seven. Those remaining on the board were Roberta Closter, Deborah Hart and Robb. Kate Mello indicated she would stay on as an alternate. Of the board positions, one must be a representative of the New Shoreham Teachers Association and one be an appointment made by the Town Council. All new terms run for two years.

Robb made it clear that although she was remaining on the board, she wished to step out of the presidency. Heinz, who is currently treasurer and leaving the board, offered to remain long enough to make an easy transition to the next treasurer.

In a consensus decision, the board chose to hold off its selection of officers to next month’s meeting. In the interim, ELC Director Christine Grele agreed to write up descriptions of responsibilities for each office.

Financial update

At the regular meeting, Heinz reported that the ELC had brought in $20,000 in fundraising to date this year as compared with $31,000 at the same point last year. The two annual events that brought in the largest sums were the boat race with $8,903 and the motoring event with $8,430. However, she noted fundraising was down considerably as reflected in the expenses for the two events: for the former, $1,273 and for the latter, $7, 821. Some pledges are still coming in for that fundraiser. Closter suggested incorporating a soap-box derby into the motoring event next time.

Summer revenues from the camp programs — one for toddlers and Camp Pequot for preschoolers — brought in a total of $21,661 in tuition for both programs. Heinz’s financial report noted that income from the preschool and toddler program tuitions had brought in a total of $25,041 to date.

The report also showed that to this point in the fiscal year, the ELC was in receipt of $31,929 of the town’s yearly appropriation of $96,000.

Playground proposals

The group discussed upcoming winter events, including raffles for gift baskets, a holiday mailer to include an appeal for funds, and a holiday gift-wrapping event to take place at the Old Island Pub. In a discussion on how to generate more funds, Turner suggested connecting with the business community to encourage it to be supportive of the ELC. Closter proposed making up a list of needs for a willing benefactor that she knew. Pollard spoke about the Kickstarter campaign she’d worked on for the Empire Theatre, which raised $60,000. She suggested that social media, Internet connections and electronic resources were the directions for future fund-raising projects.

In a playground update, Heinz pointed out that she and Henshaw had been in the process of going before several town boards, including the Historic District Commission (HDC) and she expected to attend the Planning Board’s next meeting on Nov. 13. To meet guidelines set by the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) the ELC needs to reconfigure the playground to accommodate both the toddler and preschool children at one time. This necessitates having a divided playground within the school yard.

The group is also proposing the building of a storage shed for equipment in the yard that requires official sanction from the town, as well. According to Heinz, the group has just begun considering bids for materials, labor and related expenses. Hart noted, in order to fund the project, the group was in the midst of applying for a $20,000 grant.

Heinz said, “BIED (Block Island Economic Development) gave us the OK to pursue going to the HDC and the Planning Board, and Patty [Murphy, President of BIED] will attend the Planning Board meeting with us.”

Other areas still under discussion to be continued at a future meeting were the status of the ELC’s lease with BIED, the status of the area designated for the shed and fencing and a re-examination of bylaws.

The next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 4 at 5:30 p.m.

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