Common Ground Board of Directors Minutes- March 2019

Meeting of the New Haven Ecology Project Board of Directors
March 25, 2019

Present: Wendy Battles, Robert Parker, Beth Klingher, Michael Doolittle, Kerry Lord, Charles Negaro, Kyeen Andersson, Errol Saunders, Babz Rawls Ivy, Terri Snell, Ilene Crawford

Staff: Betsy Sneath, Elena Augusewicz, Liz Cox, Joel Tolman, Rebecca Holcomb, Deborah Greig, Kimball Cartwright, Halima Flynn, Emily Schmidt

Students: Wazeer Muhammad

Public Participation: Shelly Hicks

Regrets: Jane Lee, Brian Springsteen,

Wendy called the meeting to order at 5:35

Shelly said that she has attended 3 lobby days in hartford for on behalf of New Haven charter schools, the goal is to advocate for an increase in the per pupil to $11,525.00. There has been great engagement and she’s reached most of the New Haven delegation and some surrounding towns, there has been no opposition yet. Some of our schools, including Common Ground, have had legislative visits. She is looking to invite legislators out this spring for various events in our schools. Three students from CG spoke at a recent public hearing and were able to meet some of our local representatives. There have been conversations about holes in the governor’s budget and the appropriations committee is working to fill those. We don’t believe any current charters are in jeopardy but we are concerned about two that are in the pipeline to be established and are not included on the new budget.

Business Requiring Approval

Minutes – February 25, 2019
Bob moves to approve
Kyeen seconds
Kerry Abstained

Healthy Food Certification
The Board must vote “yes” or “no” on whether to implement the healthy food option, i.e., follow the CNS for all foods sold to students separately from reimbursable meals. The specific criteria for the healthy food option required by C.G.S. Section 10-215f, is indicated below:

Healthy food option: Pursuant to C.G.S. Section 10-215f, the board of education or governing authority certifies that all food items offered for sale to students in the schools under its jurisdiction, and not exempted from the Connecticut Nutrition Standards published by the Connecticut State Department of Education, will comply with the Connecticut Nutrition Standards during the period of July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020. This certification shall include all food offered for sale to students separately from reimbursable meals at all times and from all sources, including but not limited to, school stores, vending machines, school cafeterias, and any fundraising activities on school premises sponsored by the school or by non-school organizations and groups.
The board must also vote on whether to allow food exemptions as defined below:
Food exemptions: The board of education or governing authority will allow the sale to students of food items that do not meet the Connecticut Nutrition Standards provided that the following conditions are met: 1) the sale is in connection with an event occurring after the end of the regular school day or on the weekend; 2) the sale is at the location of the event; and 3) the food items are not sold from a vending machine or school store. An “event” is an occurrence that involves more than just a regularly scheduled practice, meeting, or extracurricular activity. For example, soccer games, school plays, and interscholastic debates are events but soccer practices, play rehearsals, and debate team meetings are not. The “regular school day” is the period from midnight before to 30 minutes after the end of the official school day. “Location” means where the event is being held.
Michael moved to approve and vote “yes”
Babz seconds

Wealth Engine Membership and Software $5499.00
Wealth Engine is online service that looks at publicly available information to give us an idea of our donor’s ability to give and to have better idea of a business plan. $499.00 of it is for a Non Profit Marketing Training Series and $5000.00 is the annual subscription, we will probably not renew the subscription next year.
Bob moves to approve
Kerry Seconds

Finance Committee

Finance Dashboard
Betsy explained that we have decided that the new format would be a better way to visualize where we are through February in relation to the budget. The total revenue is 66% which is on target, we’re a little under on our expenses.

Beth explained that we have taken a deeper dive into budget and projections and have updated them, there was some salary data missing. Our budget that was done originally resulted in $114,000 surplus, it’s actually closer to $25,000.

Michael said that Betsy and Kimball have begun the budget process for 2019. We’ll have a flat budget and a more ideal budget with everything in there. Budgets have been turned in by all program managers and they are meeting with Betsy this coming week. Kimball will submit projected revenue. We are on schedule. Finance committee will continue to meet every two weeks.

HR Report
Halima is our newest staff member, we welcome her as the new Development Associate. On Monday a new Green Job Core manager will start, she is a CGHS alum from 2005, Crystal Fernandez. This will be the first time an alum has joined us in a higher level full time position. We are also looking for new site manager which is big endeavor.

Organizational Updates

Program Dashboard

Ilene wanted to know about the movement from a tier 2 to tier 3 school. Liz said we have a large group of special needs students. We attribute this movement to the variation in academic achievement in that class. We are seeing that more and more in new classes. It is also impacted by absenteeism. Kyeen would like to know what the accountability index is. Liz said it comprises all of the different performance measures. They are all weighted differently with test score carrying a lot of weight. There are multiple measures, unfortunately Academic Growth is not one of them because we just have one test, the SAT. Errol thinks we should consult the Department of Education about using the PSAT to SAT to show growth in a fuller picture. Joel said that we always report our MAP scores to show growth and those often look phenomenal but we have not submitted PSAT data.

Kimball stated that since we added a part time grant associate in 2018 we’ve been applying for more grant funding. For this fiscal year we are not doing as well as last year. We may not meet our original goals for Foundation or Individual Giving. A few big pieces that will change this is the PCLB foundation gift that will be coming in the spring. We’ll also get Rock to Rock funds after that event.

Executive Director Search

Bob said the search committee has finished six in person interviews and are now scheduling on campus visits with two of those candidates before April vacation. We’re happy with those two candidates and looking forward to the days they’ll be here, the Search Committee does request that the board come to meet the candidates when they are here. Feedback will be collected from our constituents on both candidates and the Search Committee will review that information. The goal is to make a hiring recommendation to the board in our April meeting.

Draft Strategic Plan Discussion

Emily introduced our strategic planning and the process we used to write it. She explained that we wanted to develop a three year plan that is concrete and achievable, with benchmarks to hold us accountable. The reason that this planning process happened is because the last three-year strategic plan was finished, this was a proactive process to refocus our work. We used to have two different plans, the overall strategic plan and the CEIO outcomes that were focused around our social justice mission. A main goal of the current planning process was to combine these into one plan in order to make it easier to hold the organization accountable. We examined the old priorities, conducted one-on-one interviews with stakeholders, and had panel discussion with multiple different stakeholder groups. In this process we also decided to rewrite and adopt a new mission statement that really reflects what we’re up to and what our current work looks like.
The writing team has been drafted the current draft plan that we have today. Most of the measurable indicators are there, some resources are there but this is not a finished project. This strategic plan will remain flexible until the new ED is hired so that they can massage it and make it fit their view for their work at this organization. The ED will also determine the timeline for rolling out these priorities and who will be accountable. The current draft will be used as a tool in the interview process when the candidates are here on site. We’ll ask how they see themselves carrying this work out. Today we are looking for board input and review. One next step is to put together an Organizational Transformation Team (OTT) which is similar to the previous Core Partnership Team that oversaw our CEIO initiatives. The OTT will be focused on the justice portions of this plan and holding the organization and ED responsible for them over the next three years.

Babz suggests that the ED candidates get this ahead of time so that can really put some thought into it.

Kyeen had a question about how this differs from the previous strategic plan? Joel said one of this big differences is that we lacked specificity around what we would hold ourselves to. It “fit on one page” but wasn’t granular enough to have measurables and track our progress. Michel also said the new building was a big focus of the last one and that took a lot of energy.

Charles would like to know if there are direct goals related to academics. Emily stated that there are a number of places where that shows up but especially in the ”programs” portion of the document. CGHS primary objectives are to increase rigor, build skills and review curriculum.

Bob would like to point out that this is left at an open stage, the very last page has some items that couldn’t fit into the plan so they were put in the “parking lot” at the end. The building is finished but there was a lot of talk about the sustainability of this campus and site planning the spaces we already have. The ED will get to say what will and won’t work.

Ilene wants to know if there will be more academic performance goals? Liz said every year the school makes it own very specific school improvement plan that goes into much more detail than this strategic plan.

Babz asked if the new building is being used for commercial use, which was part of the old strategic plan. Emily said that in the “place” section of the document we discussed “diversification of funding sources” which includes renting out the building. Elena also stated that she has taken on the responsibility of Site Rental Manager and has increase rental of our campus since last year.

Kyeen would like to know what a Capacity Building Partner is? Bob explained that the CPT had consultants who provided training and specialized support for us. Capacity Building Partners will play that role in the new plan.

Proposed changes to the strategic plan should be sent to Joel or Emily before the ED On-Campus interviews.

Old Business

Bob reviewed the state statutes and there doesn’t seem to be requirements for board members to have training, but there has been an implication that it is required. We just sent some folks for training with PCLB in the fall, he would like to know if it is mandatory that we do it again this spring. Since next year is the charter renewal, we should make sure we know what is required.

Shelly said she would strongly suggest that we do the training but she’s uncertain of how mandatory it is. She will look into it and get back to us.

Joel said that once in every charter renewal every board member must do the training. Still unclear if both the Fall and Spring sessions must be done.

The deadline to sign up for PCLB’s Board Training is on April 3rd. The training is on April 15th in Bridgeport.

New Business

Wendy said that Kyeen made a good suggestion about sending the draft minutes out right after the meeting so that people could review them. We must also post the agenda and meeting minutes on the website. Errol added that the agenda should have the location and room number on it.

Joel encourages board member to join the Rock to Rock team

If meeting falls on Memorial day in May should we move it to the 27th?

Adjourn at 6:54


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