Common Ground Board of Directors Minutes- September 2018

September 17, 2018 Minutes

Present: Ilene Crawford, Bob Parker, Mike Doolittle, Melissa Spear, Brian Springsteen, Errol Saunders, Jane Lee, Kerry Lord, Kyeen Andersson, Babz Rawls-Ivy

Staff: Z Bell, Joel Tolman, Elena Augusewicz, Stefan Christiansen, Henry Chisholm, Alison Hornak, Kimball Cartwright, Liz Cox, Rebecca Holcombe, Win Vitowski

Public Participation: N/A

Regrets: Wendy Battles, Charles Negaro

Bob Called the meeting to order: 5:33

Staff Introduction:

Z Bell (Uses They/Them/Their pronouns) wanted to introduce themselves to the board as the Youth Organizer and educator. There’s a student walk out next week on behalf of Nelson Pinos. There are students interested in joining the board and Z will be working with them to get this moving. They are hoping their role will be shifting to full time. They are an organizer from New Haven with a background in social justice education, originally came on to do organizing work and now is moving into more of a classroom educator and curriculum design role. They are working on more student leadership in social justice work, revamping student government and mix it up days and how students are participating. Z will likely be joining the October Board meeting and trying to get students active on the board.

Business Requiring Approval:

In August the Finance Committee approved payments for the following invoices:

501 (c) Trust $7364.14 for Unemployment

Great American Insurance: $10,711.40 for monthly commercial liability insurance

Berkley Net Insurance: $13,440.30 for Workers Comp balance due after Workers Comp Audit

City of New Haven: $8083 for Rock to Rock 2018 police services

Newfield Construction: $273,997.03 final payment

PCLB Loan Payment: $150,000

Monthly payments 0f $5000+ for Great American Insurance Group for commercial liability insurance and ACSA Group Insurance for employee benefits.

Henry Raymond Thompson,for the preliminary review of our EFS- $8200.00

June 2018 minutes

Babz moved to approve all listed above. Kyeen seconds

CDBG Funding negotiations, $10,040.00 for School gardens. Authorize Melissa to sign the documents to receive that grant. Melissa read the clause out loud.
Michael move to approve. Jane seconds

This school year Common Ground High School is participating in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) for the Child Nutrition programs. This means we don’t have to collect applications from students/families to determine eligibility for free or reduced price meals. We are reimbursed at a rate determined by a worksheet formula using your total number of students and those who are directly certified for free meals (food stamps, etc). 81.26% of monthly meals served will be reimbursed at the free rate and 18.74% of monthly meals served will be reimbursed at the free rate. Need resolution from the board to participate in this program.
Ilene move to approve. Errol seconds

Finance Committee:

Melissa passed out a revised budget as of 9/17/18 and the previous budget. This includes the changes to teachers pay schedules. It clears up inequities in teacher salary, closer to 90% to what the NHV salary schedule is. Also reflects lower health insurance, liability insurance, remove $100,000 toward building loan. Revised budget includes a set-salary schedule for TAs so they know what the incremental increases are every year. Melissa calculated the impact of these raises over next three years.

Errol moved to approve the September Budget with revisions. Jane seconds

Public Participation:

Stefan and Allison presented the board with “The Proposal By Common Ground Teaching Assistants 2018-2019”. Historically TAs were part time and then become full time, the new clause states that the “part time” year should count toward step increase since they typically work 40hrs during that time. The proposal contains a full description of what TAs do outside of what is listed in school contracts and proposed that they be referred to as “Support Educators” instead of Teaching Assistants going forward.

Brian moved to approve this Support Educator proposal, Kerry seconds

New Business:

Bob has been considering having a monthly HR approval part of the meeting to address things like this. The board did not get to see the new Teacher Step Increase Proposal before it went through and that could be important. Next month that teacher step increase should be brought to the board.

Joel would like to remind the board that there are educators and other staff on NHEP that do not have a step increase like this and it may cause some inequity.

Melissa would like the board to remain aware that we are liable to $40,000-$50,000 per year in increases in Teacher Salaries plus increases in health insurance costs. We need to do what we can to preserve what we can in anticipation of these increase over 2-3 years.

Jane would also reiterate that just 9 months ago we thought we were in trouble with state funding and that kind of risk could happen again. Salaries were our first priority but we need to make sure this can be sustained in years to come.

Michael also stated that finance committee has been encouraging us to start saving or doing a campaign to make sure that the money is there for this. Finance Committee will be working on this over the next few months.

Bob would like to talk about having retained earnings for the next three years of increases. We do not have the “tax base” to do this, we need to create that pot of money

Jane also states that this is one time money because of the PCLB grant and Construction Close Out, after that it’s spent it is gone. We adopted the June budget but as school goes expenses/income has changed, we always know that that will happen. In the fall when the school year opens there is a time for new calculations to be done.

The board agreed to an HR Report Every Month, and will want a list of new hires for the next meeting

Liz to discuss policy renewals. School policy Manual to be updated with a lot of updates. Seclusion and Restraint follows a change in the law for schools to be more responsible. Restraint is defined as anything more than a brief restricting of student movement. We used to not practice Seclusion/Restraint but last year we had 7 incidents. In seclusion, students need to be monitored by trained staff. For restraint, there needs to be a trained team to handle this, a series of staff will go through training and they will in turn be able to train our staff. Only certain staff can restrain but others will be trained in de-escalation. Every Crisis Team Member will need to go to a full day of training every year, we will have a team of 8 people. We now have a new walkie-talkie system to make sure these people are available at all times.

Liz also wants to address some new Health and Wellness Policies, many of the policies will take a lot work to accomplish. The physical education teacher (Jonathan Carney) has taken the role of Health and Wellness Administrator on. This policy begins with the Health and Wellness Committee with a meeting schedule. They will begin with going through a program assessment followed by an action plan, this is a federal tool. There are progress reports that must be posted to the website and every three years a big progress report must be submitted. It’s based on physical activity, nutrition, and other activity. This is happening at most schools, they are un-funded mandates.

Restraint policy Babz moved to approve. Michael second

Wellness policy, Kerry moved to approve. Kyeen seconds

Strategic Priorities:

Rebecca stated that the school year is off to a great start. Good programs and happy staff.

Liz would like to note that we started the school year with 15 additional seats. We have a large 9th grade class with 75% male students. A lot of new staff, supporting those new staff has prompted us to roll out a new team structure with team leads to distribute leadership and enhance communications. We are currently working on a strategic plan and trying to align all of our work with foundational pieces.

Melissa stated that we received a grant to construct a new aerated compost. We got approval from the city to build. It is going out to bid soon so this is some manageable but new construction. It will help to clean up the back area and keep water clean.

Henry would like everyone to know that Feast is sold out and has been for a couple weeks. However, Board members can make a “donation” through PayPal and specify that it’s for your ticket. We raised about $37,000.00 in sponsorships.

Old Business:

Bob stated that all members must submit Conflict of Interest forms.

Liz was hoping to get a parent board liaison on but one fell through. We are hoping to have someone on by next month.

Board members all need background checks, it is required by the state.

Board training through PCLB that is also required. Dates are TBD, two sessions. You have to be re-upped every certain number of years. Specific to non-profits and charter schools.

Bob adjourned the meeting at 6:51pm

The October Board Meeting will be held on Oct. 29 5:30-7:00


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