Common Ground Board of Directors – Minutes March 2017

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

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

Wendy called the meeting to order at 5:45 PM

Public Participation

There was none.

Business Requiring Approval

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

Finance Committee

Jane reported that the committee met prior to this meeting. They reviewed the bank reconciliation and the credit card statement reconciliation. The major topic of conversation was the 2018 budget proposal. Melissa presented several scenarios, but there are many moving pieces still, and lots of decisions still to be made at the state and federal level.

Executive Director’s Report

Melissa reported that there are two significant revenue sources that are up in the air. The Governor’s budget does include an increase in the per pupil for the high school to $11,489, but number of seats to be allocated is still under discussion. At the federal level the after school funds have been cut from the proposed budget, and the after school funds from the state are likely to be reduced to $50K. Given these uncertainties, we need to review our priorities and discern the level of risk we are able to bear.

The Springside building is scheduled for its 10-month commissioning, one of the last steps for closing the construction project. Melissa requested and the Bob moved the following resolution signed by the Secretary. The motion was seconded by Jane. APPROVED.

RESOLVED; Based on the final report of the Commissioning Agent that all systems in the newly constructed school building at 358 Springside Avenue are functioning as designed and given that all responsibilities of Newfield Construction and its contractors have been fulfilled, the Board hereby officially accepts the building as complete and authorizes the Executive Director to close out the School Construction Project by submitting an ED049F and all other information required to close the project the the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services.

Melissa announced the newly redesigned website. There were many accolades. Any comments can be addressed to Kate Cebik, who spearheaded the project.

School Report

Liz reported that it is already mid-term and there is one week until mastery testing begins. The seniors have been stepping up, wrapping up their senior projects and preparing their portfolios for review in April, followed by a “next steps” review. More good news; 100% of this class has been accepted to college. The freshman class is the real focus for the staff, working on their attendance and achievement, and instilling a growth mindset for each student.

Work continues on a change to the school schedule for next year. And Liz has decided for the next six months to use a team from ACES to help with the curriculum development work for a new 9th grade foundation.

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

Rebecca reported that she has already used 100% of the higher level of financial aid she had set for this year’s summer camp. There are only 26 openings still available. Despite her worries over enrollment for the Spring session of Kids Unplugged, there are only 3 openings available there. And she was pleased to announce a new asset in the relationship with the New Haven Public Schools. NHPS has provided additional transportation funding, allowing a bus to bring students from East Rock, Celentano and Hooker schools.

As parental interest grows in Nature Year, some school districts have expressed concerns over legal issues of “sharing” students. Rebecca is looking to see what support our Board or the CT State Department of Education might bring to these discussions.

Development Report

Kimball reported challenges ahead in development. There is a decline in six-figure gifts from both foundation and government sources. We will need many more smaller gifts, so he is requesting more capacity in his department with the hiring of a grant writer.

He then sought feedback from Board members around a redesign of this year’s Common Table event. Several suggestions were offered.

The good news is that the challenge offered by Bill and Dorothy Hurt was met and exceeded! A total of $112,000 was raised.

Old Business

There was a discussion about our Board Retreat. The resulting proposed schedule was Friday, April 28, with Board and Management Team, 3:00-8:00, and Saturday, April 29, Board only, 9:00-3:00. Monique offered to research the availability of Manjares for the Friday session and dinner. Bob agreed to see if Niyonu would be available for the Friday session (heart and head work), and Kerry will research possible facilitators for both days. Several board members agreed to meet Thursday, March 30, 5:00, to finalize plans.

Meeting adjourned at 7:00 PM

Our next meeting will be Monday, April 24, 2017 at 5:30 PM


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