Common Ground Board of Directors Meeting Minutes: Meeting April 29, 2024


April 29, 2024 

Board of Directors Minutes

Zoom Recording

Present: Alexis Smith, Monica Maccera Filppu, Liz Cox, Bob Parker, Peter Ludwig, Shelly Hicks, Aubrey Bido, Clouds Mutale, Jen Burke, Brian Kelahan. Kyeen Andersson, Terri Snell, Jeff Carter, Michelle Sepulveda

Staff: Elena Augusewicz, Kris Bower, Deborah Greig, Rebecca Holcombe, Audrey Nefores, Joel Tolman, Cherry Pacquette-Emmanuel, Peggy Middleton

Public: Chelsea Farrell


Alexis called the meeting to order at 5:33pm 

Public Comment (5:30): No public comment

Business Requiring Approval (5:33)

Kyeen moved to approve the March 25th Board Meeting Minutes, Jeff seconded the motion to approve the March 25th Board Meeting Minutes. The minutes were approved with two abstentions

Peter moved to approve the removal of Monica Maccera-Filppu as an authorized signer on all New Haven Ecology/Common Ground Accounts effective May 1st.  Peter also moved to add Cherry Pacquette-Emmanuel and Peggy Middleton as authorized signers on all New Haven Ecology/Common Ground Accounts on May 1st. Jeff seconded the motion to remove and update the approved account signers. The motion was approved unanimously. 

Jeff moved to accept the updated copy of the CGHS & CJBAU NGI Policies as an appendix in our accounting handbook. Bob seconded the motion to approve the policies. The motion was approved unanimously. 

Bob moved to have the Finance Committee vote to approve the Draft 990, Shelly seconded this motion. The movement to allow the Finance Committee to approve the final 990 was approved unanimously. 

Invoices Needing Approval

Jeff moved to approve the Corporate Systems Consulting and The Smedley Company invoices, Liz seconded the motion to approve these invoices. The invoices were approved unanimously. 

  • Corporate Systems Consulting – $5779
  • The Smedley Company – $5980 (Paid 4/12 with Jeff’s approval)

Executive Director Report (5:47pm) (Monica)

Cherry shared good news that our SAT scores saw some significant progress. There has been additional SAT practice and SAT Math Practice just for Seniors. MAP scores have also shown improvement. 

We have not heard back from the state regarding our corrective action plan, just a confirmation of receipt. 

Deborah wanted to draw attention to our upcoming seedling sale May 10 & 11th. It’s a wonderful day for our community and a great time to volunteer. You can sign up HERE to volunteer for either day.

Audrey asked the board to look at the Development portion of the ED Report. Today is the last day for Rock to Rock giving. Internally we exceeded our fundraising record, without a large individual gift but we are still short of our total $40,000 goal. That would be the most we’ve ever raised in Rock to Rock. The Great Give is now starting this week, primarily on May 1-2. Firehouse 12 will be hosting a Great Give Happy Hour for Common Ground on May 1 from 5-7pm.  

Finance and Development Committee Report (Jeff) (6:03)

Kyeen asked that the historical year numbers be add as a column in the May Board of Directors meeting Budget vs. Actuals Report plus the Projections as reported here. 

The Finance and Development committee met on April 25th  to review Budget vs Actuals with EOY projections as of March 31st and Invoices for approval. The committee agreed to reduce projected revenue in line with what is realistic at this point in the year and reviewed a first draft budget for FY 25 that will be shared with the board. For more info contact Jeff Carter. Minutes from the Finance Committee Meeting can be found HERE

Monica shared a draft 2025 Budget presentation that was not linked in the ED Report because the data was unedited. She will share it with the Executive Committee after this meeting and they will decide when to send it out to the rest of the board.

Cherry said that she can report back regarding student recruitment regularly to the board. This will allow us to have an accurate number in the 2025 budget for Per-Pupil funding. 

Committee Reports (7:28pm)

Minutes of all Committee Meetings will be Posted on the Board of Directors Webpage by the end of each month

Audit Committee 

The Audit Committee will not meet again until November or December 2024 to review the FY 24 audit.

Governance Committee Report (Shelly)

The Governance Committee met on April 9th and 23rd to discuss processes for interim ED and permanent ED hiring and will share meeting updates at the full board meeting.  Please contact with any questions. 

Governance committee met with 7 search firms and decided on IES Inc. The Governance Committee reviewed several options and have agreed upon a final candidate, Karen Jenkins, who will begin on May 1. 

The search for a permanent ED candidate will look different and include other members of the board. More information will be shared in regards to a search committee. 

Minutes from the Governance Committee Meeting can be found HERE

The next governance committee meeting will be May 14th

Personnel Committee Report (Monique)

The Personnel Committee did not meet in April. Please contact with any questions. 

Minutes from the Personnel Committee will be posted HERE


School Committee Report (Brian) 

The School Committee met on April 24th  and will share a synopsis of their meeting with the full board.  The next meeting date is May 15th  For more information contact 

Minutes from the School Committee Meeting can be found HERE

Brian moved to approve the amended 2023-2024 School Calendar, Bob seconded the motion to approve the calendar. The calendar was approved unanimously. 

New Business (7:45)

Bob moved to approve Karen Jenkins as an authorized signer on all New Haven Ecology/Common Ground Accounts effective May 1st, Shelly seconded the motion to approve the authorized signer. The motion was approved unanimously. 

For May board meeting prepare certified resolution authorizing Karen Jenkins to enter into contracts on behalf of NHPS

Executive Session (7:46) 

Peter moved to enter into executive session, Shelly seconded the motion. The motion to enter into executive session was approved unanimously.

The board returned from Executive Session at 8:04. No votes were taken in Executive Session.

Monica requested the following Motion

Motion: Superintendent’s Recommendation to the Board of Education

In my capacity as Superintendent of Common Ground High School, I recommend that the Board of Education nonrenew the teaching contract of Kris Bower at the end of the 2023 – 2024 school year in accordance with the provisions of Connecticut General Statutes Section 10-151, and that the Board authorize me to furnish written notice of the action.

I am making this recommendation due to excessive absences, which I view to be a sufficient basis for the recommended action.

Brian moved that the Board approve the motion as written and Jeff seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously with no absentions.

Shelly moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:06 pm and Peter seconded the motion. The meeting was adjourned at 8:06pm 

Next Meeting: May 6 meeting is for Curriculum and Instruction Sub Committee. May 15th the regular committee IN PERSON at Common Ground  

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, April 26th and will close at 5:00 pm on the day of the meeting (Monday, April 29th) 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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