Two beloved teachers — Michel and McCombe — to retire
Block Island School Superintendent Robert Hicks announced at a School Committee budget session Monday that he had received retirement notifications from second grade teacher Barby Michel and art teacher Teri McCombe. Each has been at her teaching post for approximately 30 years.
Arriving at the school in 1974, Michel began by teaching fifth and sixth grades and continued to do so for fifteen years. At that time she transferred to the second grade classroom, where she has continued to the present.
McCombe came to the island school originally to teach art to seventh and eighth graders only and did so for 15 years. Eventually she collaborated with another art teacher to develop a comprehensive art program inclusive of grades kindergarten through twelfth grade.
“They are not only long-time and experienced teachers, they are just wonderful teachers, who have tremendously influenced all the students who’ve come through the Block Island School in their time. What is more: they are tremendously respected by their colleagues,” Hicks said, acknowledging the two teachers’ long service to the school.
The School Committee continued its discussion of the 2013-2014 school budget, currently proposed to be $4,711,148. Hicks provided information previously requested as well as a series of updates on itemized budget lines. Among these he noted that the costs for the cultural activities program was $6,627, including stipends for advisors and travel expenses. The costs may rise, he said, to support participation by special needs students in the program.
With McCombe’s retirement, Hicks pointed out the ceramics program would be absorbed into the art program, providing a savings of $6,343.
After moving some figures up and others down, at the end of the session the budget remained a work-in-progress, with Hicks and committee members anticipating it would be finalized and approved at the next regular meeting.
With enrollment at the island school having shrunk considerably over the last several years, Hicks said that looking ahead there might need to be “a whole new discussion on restructuring the school.” However, he wasn’t ready at this time to consider splitting or combining grades, which the school did in the distant past, or hiring part--time faculty.
Responding to committee member Elizabeth Connor, Hicks said the committee should make a decision on the proposed restructure of the administration at its next meeting. That reorganization would keep two co-principals; however, instead of two part-time slots, one would remain part-time and one would be full-time, with some hours of the latter drawn from decreasing hours in the superintendent’s position. Chair Bill Padien said the change would essentially amount to the addition of a less-than-half-time post.
Hicks announced that Police Chief Vincent Carlone would speak with the committee on security issues at the March 18 meeting. The next regular session was set for February 11 at 7 p.m.