Roosa Fund boosts ELC needs
The Block Island Early Learning Center (ELC) Board of Directors met Wednesday, March 5, on the cusp of a particularly demanding couple of weeks. Accreditations and grants are currently the primary concerns of the ELC.
The board began the meeting with an update by Treasurer Roberta Closter, who said the ELC’s finances and fund-raising efforts are on par for the year, except for revenues from enrollment. Enrollment levels are currently low, but the members of the Board weren’t worried. Soon they will have their hands full, with a few island children expected to begin attending later in 2014, according to Closter.
However, Closter mentioned that they haven’t been receiving scheduled payments from parents with enrolled children as of late. She said that she realizes the winter is difficult, but “people need to start paying.” Closter said that any level of payment is acceptable, and that “we’ll take anything at this point.”
With that, Executive Director Christine Grele gave the board her director’s report. She was pleased to announce that a grant request to the Roosa Fund was accepted. “We’ve received an amazing grant package from the Roosa Fund for the playground, additional security, strategic planning, and for our HVAC system,” Grele said.
Patrick Tengwall, administrator for the Roosa Fund, told The Block Island Times that the Roosa Fund will be awarding the ELC $15,000 for the playground, $20,000 per year for strategic planning for the next three years, $500 for a security upgrade, and $4,900 for the HVAC system. The Roosa Fund is a part of Block Island Ecumenical Ministries, an inter-faith charity organization that acts as a community fund for Block Island.
Grele also told the Board about the successful meeting she and Secretary Debby Hart had with the Block Island Residents Association (BIRA) last month. They had asked BIRA for some assistance after Block Island Economic Development (BIED) had asked them for a security deposit for the building the ELC uses, and as Hart said, “[BIRA] was very creative and very generous.” BIRA had decided to help the ELC by making a guarantee to BIED for the security deposit as well as making a small donation to the ELC’s general fund.
Greta Heinz and Stacy Henshaw momentarily joined the meeting to update the Board on their progress with Ocean State Charities and their grant for the playground and fencing at the ELC. They said Ocean State will visit the ELC in a few weeks to determine their needs. Heinz and Henshaw are currently working on the design for the new playground, which will be reviewed by Ocean State Charities, but “the fencing is the number one priority,” Henshaw said.
The biggest issue on the ELC’s plate currently is the looming accreditation visit by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). They will visit the ELC for one day sometime before March 21. The ELC’s staff has been working hard to prepare for the visit, and they received much praise and appreciation from members of the board at the meeting. “We meet in the evenings and chip away at it,” toddler teacher Jeana Rachels said. Director Grele said she expects the ELC will receive accreditation from NAEYC within three months, and also mentioned an accreditation from Bright Stars of the Rhode Island Department of Education is in the works.
Regarding fundraising, Chair Lisa Robb said the jewelry sales went very well. The bowling tournament the ELC is holding has been postponed to April 5, because not enough people had signed up. “I didn’t make it very clear that you have to sign up,” Robb said. The new deadline for sign-ups for the bowling tournament is April 22.
The Board also discussed plans for a fishing tournament in the summer that Vice Chair Dave Turner is working on organizing. Turner said he needs to figure out if they can hold the awards ceremony at the Fire Barn, and when the Fire Department is holding their fishing tournament this summer, if at all. Turner also told the Board that he’s found a great sponsor to supply prizes. Robb then proposed a yard sale for kids’ clothing and toys this summer, probably to be held in June.