Greenaway closes a chapter
After 45 years teaching English and creative writing at the Block Island School, Mrs. Nancy Greenaway will be bringing this chapter of her life to a close at the end of the school year.
Her resignation was accepted with regret by the members of the School Committee at their meeting on Monday, Feb. 11. In her letter to the committee, and to School Supt. John Convery, Greenaway said “This is my long-anticipated notice of retirement. Because I will miss my students so much, it is with considerable reluctance and great difficulty that I submit my request to ‘graduate’ at the end of the school year.
“I am grateful to the students of the school for all they have taught me and for giving my life a meaning and joy it would not have had without them.”
“Wishing you the wisdom, stamina, intelligence, courage, and patience to provide the best possible education for our students.”
In presenting Greenaway’s letter, Convery said, “This is bittersweet. In the short time I’ve been here, I have come to have a great deal of respect for her.”
Principal Kristine Monje said that Greenaway started at the school in 1974 and since then has become “an institution in our school, but she’s excited to go on to her next journey, and we wish her well.”
Monje said that she hoped the school would be able to “bring her back in some capacity.”
A clearly moved Bill Padien, chair of the committee, said he had “known Nancy for a long time,” and thanked her for her help in getting his son interested in writing. “Without Nancy he wouldn’t be writing — and writing successfully, I might add. She will be missed.”
The Committee approved its recommended budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.
The proposed budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020 is $5,260,412, or a 2.7 percent increase over this year’s expenditures.
The current budget is running at a slight deficit. Supt. Convery noted that the year is expected to end with a deficit of $28,039. Padien asked Financial Director Melanie Reeves if that number could be brought down by the end of the year, but she said she did not feel comfortable making a forecast just yet.
Some of the bigger ticket items in the proposed budget are salaries, which are proposed at $2,981,818, or a $95,301 increase over this year’s allocation; $323,629 for the pension fund; $533,800 for health insurance; supplies and material at $39,792; $70,000 for heating fuel (a $6,000 reduction from this year’s appropriation).
This budget proposal will then be reviewed by the Town Manager and Town Finance Director, and will be forwarded to the Town Council for approval. After the council approves the budget, it will be voted on at the annual Financial Town Meeting in May.
After a period of some dormancy, Student Council President Mac Brown said the council had regrouped. They were holding regular meetings and planning monthly events. “We’ve assembled a great group of students,” Brown told the committee. They’ve been planning volleyball nights, and were in the midst of working on the next Spirit Week. Brown was representing the Council along with Vice President Allison Pineda.
“We’re trying to have an open process and engage everybody,” he said. The members of the council represent grades eight and up.
“Do you have a lot of interaction with staff?” asked Padien.
“I would say yes,” Brown said. The council confers with staff when they need chaperones, hold small fundraisers, or need equipment for an event.
“I think it’s important that, maybe not every month but every other month, to have a representative fill us in on what is happening,” said Padien. “Don’t be afraid to bring anything up.”
Convery apprised members of student attendance numbers for the second quarter of the year, saying they had dipped slightly from last year’s numbers for the same timeframe. Class attendance this year was at 88.7 percent, down from 89.6 percent last year. Convery noted that because Block Island School classes are so small, “a few number of students can impact the numbers.”
But School Principal Kristine Monje said she felt the numbers were “something that I’m really concerned about.” She said that the importance of school attendance was “something that needed to be promoted in the community” while also adding it was a “small number of kids — one, two, three kids — who have been pushing the limits with their attendance.”
Monje also updated the committee on the progress of the high-speed internet project for the Community Anchor Institutions, of which the school is one. “I hope we’ll have broadband by April, and I was told that we will,” she said.