Present: Kim Futrell, Wendy Battles, Frank Mitchell, Mike Doolittle, Bob Parker, John Jessen, Monique Frasier, Miranda Bailey, Ben Gardner, Claudia Merson, Melissa Spear, Joel Tolman, Kimball Cartwright, Liz Cox

Regrets: Jane Lee

Minutes: Before the meeting started board members viewed student artwork at a pop up art exhibition in the cafeteria.  Members moved into the classroom to begin the meeting.  Bob made a motion to accept the minutes and Kim was the second.  The board voted to approve the minutes.

Business requiring approval: LaRosa Earth Group submitted a second invoice for $155,000; the work is scheduled to be finished Feb 7.  Michael has reviewed and approved (per the new construction bill pay process) to be paid when the current work is complete.  Mike moved the motion to pay the invoice and Wendy’s was the second voice.  The board voted to approve the payment.

Mike Doolittle briefly described the audit documents that he, Jane, and Frank previewed for the board—clean with no findings—and Melissa added a comment.  Bob made a motion to accept the audited financials and Ben was the second.  The members voted to accept.

Liz introduced the proposed Parent rep, Babz Rawls, a parent volunteer for lunch duty who has helped with advocacy and is enthusiastic about serving in the position. Wendy, one of several members who know her, made the motion to endorse the nomination and the second was Mike.  The board agreed and members planned to welcome Babz at the next meeting.

School Report: Liz reported that the school would start a new semester the next day so they were in a few days of transition that included benchmark tests and some diversions.  Earlier in the day students completed an inaugural presentation of learning and leadership with outside reviewers who discussed ideas with students in their guidance classes. Seniors presented/defended their portfolios in conversation with the 24 visitors during this experience that also served as a PD immersion opportunity for them at Common Ground.

The transition allowed space to schedule conferences and prepare the mastery testing schedule, which will present CAPT for some grades and the electronic Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium test for others.

The Environmental Justice class made several recent presentations; one to a delegation from the city’s Public Works department and another to the Chamber of Commerce executive committee.  

Program Report: Community programming has been busy during the winter planning period with events that include a recent PD session on schoolyard habitat with 15 teachers working on creation of schoolyard habitats at Hooker, Barnard, and Columbus. A school garden and diversity conference planned for March 20 at Beardsley Zoo is co-sponsored by Common Ground, CT Audubon, COEEA, and several other environmental non-profits.  And staff members (with new babies) are returning slowly— Rebecca, Shannon, Jill.  Kyle Siriano is heading up the maple syrup event scheduled for March 15.

Development & Campaign Report: Donors met the challenge of the $100,000 match pool and garnered many gifts under $10,000 from people benefiting from the match.  Next is a new cultivation round that may be helped by Rock to Rock and the maple sugar event. Rock to Rock is April 26 and pending grant decisions included Peter & Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation, Merck Family Fund and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation on behalf of the city, URI, and others for federal money ($791,000) and significant administration responsibilities. There was also some final reporting due to the Fink Foundation and an EPA Environmental Ed proposal pending to support programs like the professional development and portfolio review that happened earlier in the day.

Diversity Initiative: At the last meeting members agreed to contact a list of proposed facilitators and a body that could run training sessions and manage the CG group in its growth as a leadership entity. The winnowing has begun for a goal of 3 finalists who are willing to be interviewed.

Strategic Planning: Frank put forward three strategic planning questions for the coming year:

  1. Who do we want to be? What’s the organization of which you’d be proud to be a major supporter in 5 years
  2. What do we need to do to get there?
  3. Who do we need to have involved?

The board contemplated a 5 year vision question for discussion at the next meeting.

Director Note: Melissa presented the financial statement with special attention to the school numbers— they look good and benefit from a bump due to special education support from sending districts — and general revenues are better than predicted and expenses okay at this point.  One area of challenge is in wages on both sides of campus because of a few factors that required additional hourly staff.  There is some cushion in the funding from the past year but that money could go to several different needs during this campaign period. The final building costs may bring some relief.