Common Ground Board of Directors- Minutes April 2017

Common Ground

Minutes of the Board of Directors Meeting

April 24, 2017

Present: Wendy Battles, Mike Doolittle, Monique Frasier, Beth Klingher, Jane Lee, Kerry Lord, Frank Mitchell, Bob Parker, Melissa Spear, Babz Rawls Ivy

Staff: Liz Cox, Kimball Cartwright, Rebecca Holcombe, Joel Tolman, Deborah Greig,

Regrets: John Jessen, Claudia Merson


Bob called the meeting to order at 5:35 PM

Public Participation: There was none.


Business Requiring Approval

Mike moved approval of the minutes of the March 27, 2017 meeting. Beth seconded. APPROVED.

Motion to move and approve 20K rent check. Mike moved, Jane seconded. APPROVED.


Finance Committee (combined with ED report)

Jane reported that the committee met prior to this meeting. They reviewed the bank reconciliation and the credit card statement reconciliation. Third quarter forecast – feel able to close deficit.

The major topic of conversation was the 2018 budget proposal, here are several of the scenarios: but there are many moving pieces still, and lots of decisions still to be made at the state and federal level.


  1. 210 students at 11K with a 31K deficit
  2. 195 students at 11K – 172K deficit – includes 100K loan payment (this may be able to be delayed)
  3. 210 seats at 11K is the likeliest scenario. Melissa thinks we can make that work, can talk to delegation – Martin Looney. Will let staff know that everything else is up in the air – per pupil, afterschool programs. There are 50-75K of unidentified funds, no raises in this budget.

Currently there is a sense of fear and anxiety among staff. Need to tell the story that everyone is doing everything they can to hold onto staff.

Monique mentioned that we’ve been down this road before. Need to keep communication open with the notion that this is an ongoing conversation.

Board will have to decide what budget to adopt. Melissa will send budget scenarios to the board before the May board meeting; we don’t have to adopt until June.

Bob reported on the efforts to increase our line of credit at TD Bank. Babz moved the following resolution, “An increase of 

$100,000 to the TD Bank Line of Credit is authorized, and Melissa Spear is hereby granted authority to both sign for the loan and grant collateral.” Mike seconded the motion. APPROVED.

We are submitting a charter facility grant to pay back the 500K loan.


School Report

The board reviewed a series of school policies.

  • Homework Policy – that which is assigned should have a useful purpose
  • Graduate requirements – revised to reflect current reality.
  • Grading assessment systems – this is the primary responsibility of the teacher. We recommend tracking attainment of mastery of standards
  • Promotion/Acceleration, Retention – upped our promotion standards. There are multiple measures that include mastery testing, passing classes, seniors need to defend portfolio of learning (senior justice based)
  • Attendance – 16 or 17 year old can be withdrawn” – slight language change.


Beth moved to approve all changes. Monique seconded. APPROVED

Graduation is June 16

Back from April break, into busy time. AP testing for next two weeks and final benchmarking testing. Portfolio defenses. Trips/assemblies.

Signing up for first round of curriculum development work. Hope to be ready for 9/1

Farm Report

Deborah said that the farm is slowly waking up for the season. The greenhouse is filling up. The current work has been with the livestock, who are evidencing some health issues. Guidance and science classes from the high school have been making the farm a part of the work. Deborah also announced a job posting for a farm intern. The candidate must be 18 or over and will work from May through August?


Programs Report

Farm festival on May 20 plus seeding sale. Rebecca talked about children’s program metrics. Split almost 50/50 between city and suburban. Programs are trending younger, especially 5-7 age group. More males than females in programs.

Have a meeting set up with superintendents in Bethany, Amity and Orange. Want to allay their fears because the Nature Year program has been so successful. Hamden super said no more kids after this year. There are concerns from supers about who gets to go, insurance, hours of instruction. Babz suggested some press, Rebecca hesitant – doesn’t want to promote and have people pull funding.


Development Report


Rock to Rock: 1177 riders. 180K raised this year. Will meet or exceed budget projections for this year. 14K raised so far for Common Ground with contributions accepted through May 15..


Steven Ross – memorial service on 5/6 plus sculpture unveiling for Joan Gillette. Retooling Common Table. Will be more of a friend-raising event. What elements do we want to preserve? Highlight is talking to/hearing from students. Probably 1.5 hours. Uncommon drinks plus 3-4 stations with students talking about things going on. Maybe a demonstration of Nature Year. Let’s invite new people – people who don’t know a lot about common ground. Offer people opportunities over the summer


Old Business

There was a discussion about the upcoming Board Retreat. The resulting proposed schedule was:

  • Friday, April 28, with Board and Management Team, 3:30-6:30
    • CEIO work with Niyonu – heart and head
  • Saturday, April 29, Board only, 9:00-3:00
    • Facilitated by Isobel Stevenson
    • Strategic priorities and CEIO work

Monique is coordinating dinner arrangements on Friday night with Manjares. Potluck breakfast and lunch on Saturday coordinated by board members.


Our next meeting will be Monday, May 22, 2017 at 5:30 PM


Meeting adjourned at 6:35 pm


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