Common Ground Board of Directors Meeting Minutes: Meeting Oct. 30, 2023

This Meeting will be held in person

At Common Ground 358 Springside Ave

Hilltop Room 109

October 30, 2023

Present: Bob Parker, Monique Frasier, Jen Burke, Liz Cox, Brian Kelahan, Shelly Hicks, Jeff Carter, Alexis Smith, Monica Maccera Filppu

Staff: Elena Augusewicz, Bev Greene, Deborah Greig, Joel Tolman, Crystal Fernandez, Rebecca Holcombe, Cherry Pacquette-Emmanuel

Students: Clouds Mutale, Aubrey Bido

Public: N/A


Alexis called the meeting to order at 5:38pm

Public Comment (5:38): There were no public comments 

Business Requiring Approval (5:38pm)

Brian moved to approve the minutes of the September 18th Board meeting, and Bob seconded motion to approve the Sept. 18th minutes. The Sept. 18th board minutes were approved unanimously. 

Jeff moved to approve the minutes of the Special Oct. 2nd Board Meeting, Jenn seconded the motion to approve the Oct. 2nd minutes. The Oct. 2 board minutes were approved with one abstention.

Invoices Needing Approval

Jeff moved to approve the Zangari Cohen and Thurston Foods invoices, Shelly seconded the motion to approve both invoices. The invoices were approved unanimously. 

  • Zangari Cohen $6235.00- Legal Support September 2023. 
  • Thurston Foods $13,836.18- Lunch and Breakfast supplies from the end of Sept to mid Oct.

Bob moved to approve the Board Resolution and Incumbency Resolution as presented, Liz seconded the motion to approve the Board Resolution and Incumbency Resolution. The resolutions were approved unanimously

Liz moved to approve Clouds and Aubrey as student board members, Shelly seconded the motion to approve the new student board members. The movement to approve them as student board members was approved unanimously.

Aubrey and Clouds introduced themselves to the board. Aubrey is excited to be setting an example for the student body and voicing their needs to the board. Clouds introduced herself to the board. She is a frequent CG volunteer and GJC employee.

Brian suggested Aubrey and Clouds provide a student update at each meeting if possible. 

Executive Director Report (5:45pm) (Monica)

Monica explained that the increase in staff compared to the Sept. meeting was related to new full time folks finishing their onboarding process. She reminded the board that we will be having our Charter Renewal Site visit this Thursday. There are quite a few program updates that you can read about and celebrate in the ED report. 

Crystal shared that GJC was awarded a $500,000 grant from the EPA and we are the only program in the state of CT to receive this award. Monica celebrated Crystal, Joel and the whole Development Team who helped make this grant happen.

Joel and the school hosted 20 educators here through the Barr program last week. They came from charter schools around New England sat in on Core 10 classes and our seniors shared their portfolios with them. Visiting teachers were struck by how interdisciplinary their projects were and how reflective Seniors were about their work. 

Bev said that we were awarded a Security Grant that will allow us to do 90% of the Security and Safety upgrades we’re planning to make this year. 

Cherry shared the School Improvement Plan for SY23-24 out to the board. She also shared the SIP Overview Slide Deck with the board. The School Committee had reviewed this Improvement Plan in advance of the board meeting and was able to give feedback and ask questions.

Audit Committee (6:08) 

No meetings until Fall 2023: FY 23 Audit in progress

Finance and Development Committee Report (6:08) (Jeff)

The Finance and Development committee met on October 26th  to review Budget vs Actuals as of September 30th 2023 and Invoices for approval. We also discussed how to best incorporate the work of Finance and Development in this joint committee. Jeff will discuss further with the board members and Monica will discuss with Audrey. The Finance and Development Committee will next meet on Thursday, November 15th.  For more info contact Jeff Carter.

Monica explained that we’re doing our quarterly projections a little later than usual this year to leave room for the new union contract rollout and how that will be affecting our budget. 

Governance Committee Report (6:09) (Alexis)

The Governance Committee met on October 12th. The committee discussed assigning all board members to committees and began developing descriptions for each committee. Alexis and Ky worked to assign all board members to at least one committee. Alexis will field board member interest and preference for each committee, as well as identify potential chairs/co-chairs of each committee. Chairs will be responsible for scheduling meetings and developing agendas, in consultation with Monica. The Governance would like to see each committee report out at each board meeting. The Governance committee also discussed the concerns raised by staff and how best to continue to respond in light of the recommendations from the school committee.

Personnel Committee Report (6:10pm)

The personnel committee did not meet. The committee includes Monique Frasier, Shelly Hicks, Bob Parker, and Alexis Smith.

Strategic Planning Committee Report (6:10pm)

The strategic planning committee did not meet. Bob Parker will serve as chair of the committee.

School Committee Report (6:10pm) Liz  

The School Committee met on October 25. The Committee reviewed the Committee charge provided by the Governance Committee, and discussed: (1) school information that should be regularly shared with both with the Committee and with the full board; (2) next steps to address staff concerns, ensuring that the School Improvement Plan is a vehicle to carry that work; (3) the impacts of a staff termination on students and staff. 

The Committee recommends that

  1. Information regarding staff turnover and teacher absenteeism be shared with the full Board monthly in addition to the student absenteeism and staffing data currently being reported.
  2. The  School Leadership Team (SLT) develop a data dashboard based upon School Improvement Plan indicators, which would be shared with the School Committee monthly to monitor school well-being and flag concerns that need to be shared with the full Board.  
  3. The dashboard include some indicators not currently in the SIP: academic achievement and growth indicators for the entire student body, disaggregated by grade and subgroups; class performance data (passing rates) to assess students’ progress towards promotion; and School Climate Survey data indicators.
  4. Staff climate surveys be administered  quarterly to assess  staff concerns about administrator communication, organization systems, and feelings of being unvalued and supported.
  5. School Committee members facilitate school focus groups to gain deeper understanding of staff concerns and staff recommendations about data that should be tracked to understand these concerns.
  6. To the extent possible, organizational leadership be proactive in addressing staff and student concerns about the staff termination.

The next meeting date TBD.  For more information contact Liz Cox. 

New Business (6:20)

Executive Session (6:20)

Bob moved to enter into executive session at 6:20pm, Shelly seconded the motion to enter into executive session. The board returned from executive session at 7:42pm

Adjourn (7:42pm)

Monique moved to adjourn the board of directors meeting. Shelly seconded the motion to adjourn. The motion to adjourn was passed unanimously. 

Next Meeting: November 27th (Remote Video Meeting on Zoom)

Public Comment: 

In order to comply with Connecticut Open Meeting laws, any member of the public wishing to participate in the meeting must sign up on the Public Participation Sign-up Document. Sign-ups for Public Participation will open at 5 pm on the last business day before the meeting (Friday, October 27th ) and will close at 5:00 pm on the day of the meeting (Monday, October 30th) Public Participation is limited to 2 minutes per person up to 30 total minutes. Anyone wishing to make a statement to the board can also submit testimony in writing to  by 5:00 pm on the day of the meeting. All submitted documents will be included in the publicly shared meeting minutes.


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