School starts to develop its re-opening plan

Thu, 06/25/2020 - 5:45pm

According to recommendations made by Gov. Gina Raimondo, every school district must provide the state with three plans that will get school up and running in the fall.

“The state is requiring every district to submit three different scenarios,” said Supt. Michael Convery. “The best case scenario is all or close to all students being back at school. The middle scenario is some grades come back and some would stay home, and the worst case is going back to distance learning.”

Convery added each district has a team of teachers and parents to discuss a plan for the fall.

The template from Rhode Island Department of Education on what each district has to submit was issued on Friday, June 19, said Convery, and initial discussions have begun.

“What we are doing is having preliminary conversations predominantly with teachers, but as soon as we see the template and guidance, we will develop our plan,” he said.

District plans have to be submitted to the Rhode Island Department of Education by July 17, said Convery, who added that it was difficult to forecast just what Block Island’s plan would look like.

“It’s difficult right now, we just don’t know. There’s so many unknowns. I think if any school in the state can pull off a reopening, I think it’s the Block Island School,” said Convery.

School committee member Persephone Brown asked if it would be beneficial to reach out to other communities in the southern district of Rhode Island, to learn how they will be approaching their plans for the fall.

“I can check with the other superintendents,” said Convery.

Discussion on budget revisions

The budget for the Block Island School’s Fiscal Year 2020 was $5,070,965, with the revised number for Fiscal Year 2021 at $5,172,384. 

“The town is in the process of revising the budget across the board. Our original number in January was over eight percent, close to nine percent. Since that time, [the percent] lowered to 3.2 percent, with the town recommending a two percent increase,” said Convery on the recent budget revisions.

Convery added there were still several unknowns, and “these are some of the changes since the February [2020] budget.”

“Our fiscal year on the budget starts July 1 right?” asked Committe Chair Bill Padien.

“Yes, I believe if no new budget is adopted by then, we would have to roll over our current budget until there is one,” said School Finance Director Melanie Reeves.

“Have you been in discussion with Amy Land?” asked Paiden.

“Yes. Until we have one, the current one would roll over at July 1,” answered Reeves.

“Do you feel like there’s any chance the town is going to give us more than two percent? There’s still negotiations,” asked member Jessica Willi.

“I think getting two percent when other services in town are level funded — no I do not,” said Convery.

The New Shoreham School Committee will continue further discussion at its meeting on Monday, July 20.