Common Ground Board of Directors Minutes
March 26, 2018
Attending: Wendy Battles, Jane Lee, Michael Doolittle, Bob Parker, Monique Frasier, Melissa Spear, Kerry Lord, Beth Klingher, Babz Rawls-Ivy
Staff: Rebecca Holcombe, Deborah Greig, Brian Springsteen, Liz Cox, Joel Tolman, Elena Augusewicz, Henry Chisholm, Jesse Delia, Betsy Sneath
Public Participation: Tupac Shureem
Regrets: Claudia Merson, Frank Mitchell
Bob called meeting to order at 5:34
Jesse stated that Tupac was here on behalf of the student body to discuss having more student members on the board. The Young Activist Club has started to plan a nomination of student board reps
Tupac stated that for the past few weeks they have been developing a voting process to have students on the board. Students feel underrepresented and would like to have two or more student reps on the board. They hope to follow the same open voting format as student council; a questionnaire will be passed out and the students with the highest ranking would be elected to the board. The Young Activist club was hoping to have one rep from each class (3 reps).
Michael stated that the bylaws call for two students so we would need to consider changing those to allow for more
Bob requested a timeline for students to have an election
Tupac said that they talked about getting 2-3 people from the Young Activist club on the board this year then start the voting process in the next academic year. The young Activist member sitting on the board would help them learn about how the board works before they open it the whole school.
Bob stated that it may be helpful to follow the same timeline as our adult board member on-boarding, to start as soon as June.
Jane asked how the club would bring the information they gain from the board to other students after the board meetings.
Tupac said that they have not considered that yet but that he would discuss it in the next club meeting.
Monique said that using town halls and student councils could help get information out to students
Melissa suggested a write up in the school paper
Jesse suggested that a board member should work with the Young Activist club in a mentorship role.
Bob and Wendy offered to be the point people for they YAC if they have questions or need assistance
Business Requiring Approval
Michael moved to approve. Monique seconds
Approve $50K payment to Newfield Construction and sign check
Approve emergency replacement of Farmhouse boiler for $6780 ($3500 deposit 3/22)
Kerry moved to approve, Jane seconds
Healthy Food Certification Statement for 2018-2019
The board voted “Yes” to implement the healthy food option
The board voted “Yes” to allow food exemptions
Beth moved to approve, Babz seconds
Jane stated that they looked over a draft of the budget, the budget process is ongoing but it’s in a good place. She would like Melissa to discuss it with the board in more detail
Melissa stated that all program directors had submitted their budgets and Betsy had combined them all. The current draft represents the first sit down and discussions with program directors. The budget includes a 2% raise and moves teachers who had not gone up a step last year to move up to the next step this year. Based on information from Third Sector New England they tried to adjust salaries that were below average estimates. Insurance is expected to go up by 15%. Per pupil funds are being left at last years rates because of concerns around the State Budget. Expenses and salaries are rising but Per Pupil is stagnant. The construction audit is underway, there was potential of CG ending up with $300,000 but it’s looking like it will be less now, Melissa is hoping that the funds from the audit will ease the high schools projected deficit. We are also waiting to hear about funds to pay off PCLB loan in June. There’s a good chance of getting that through the board of education. The budget will continue to be updated and adjusted as new information comes in, we just got a $10,000 grant for schoolyards so Suzannah’s budget will need to be tweaked when she is back from maternity leave. Melissa hopes to vote on a final budget in the May board meeting.
Joel stated that Rock to Rock is one month away. He is hoping that everyone on the board will get involved in some way, even if it’s not riding. He would like to get more people on our team. Another option is to volunteer the day of, especially on campus that morning to welcome people. You can set up a free fundraising page if you sign up as a volunteer. There is also an option to do a walk at east rock park that you can do instead of the bike ride, it will be at 10:30am on the day of R2R. If your not available on April 28th Joel and David Gibson are doing 20 mile a ride on April 8th, after the Day of Service. You can also support a student rider on CGs team. Overall, Rock to Rock had an amazing start and raised twice as much as this time last year, there is a bonus fund that is encouraging friendly competition between organizations. Joel is assuming this fund will be used up by mid april. CGs personal team is a little behind where they were this time this year.
CCAT Organizational Assessment Report
Melissa emailed it to the whole board, there is a topline summary on the dashboard. It was last done in 2011. 12 people answered the survey. Melissa didn’t think there was anything too surprising in the results but it highlights some of the challenges we have been aware of. The Community Foundation does offer suggestions on how to address challenges.
Michael asked if there was an action plan
Melissa said that if we choose one issue to target we could be eligible for a $1500.00 grant to address the challenge. She feels that we should apply for that grant.
Joel said that the Community Foundation will have 3 consultants who will explain the report, that’s optional. This wasn’t offered in 2011. We haven’t discussed this option yet but we could. The results are similar to results from 2011 but some categories were different. There’s an option to compare us to other organizations as well but we have not processed that data yet.
Melissa said that we are looking at challenges around our organization culture, there have been so many recent changes, new programs, implementing restorative justice, inclusion work, added staff, changed schedule, built a building and that all effects these results. She also added that this data does not get reported to the foundation, it’s only for us to benefit
Babz felt that it’s good to look at this but we shouldn’t necessarily change our course of action based on this one measure
Liz and Rebecca both said that it was difficult to do this assessment because of the two entities, NHEP vs. CGHS so that may affect the results as well.
Liz said that this is the highest student absenteeism rate since we started tracking it. We did have a bad flu season, students with mental and physical illnesses, some behavioral issues. We have been doing home visits, we implemented a rewards systems, we are contacting parents and picking up students in the morning. Liz feels that the absenteeism has started to stabilize over the past two weeks. Our rate is high but compared to other urban high schools it’s not too abnormal but it is an accountability measure of the state. The New Haven Public School district is around 34%, the state avg is around 11% and last year we were around 12.5%. It has started to decline and will continue to as the year goes on. The increased class load has been a stressor, but students are getting used to it. Missing classes has a big impact when you only meet 3 times per week
Monique does feel like the overall anxiety of students is contributing to this absenteeism as well.
Kerry asked if the sophomore class failure rates are related to absenteeism and Liz thinks that they are connected but that the school is trying to remedy this and are working with sophomores closely.
Brian Springsteen came to the board meeting today as the representative from the Teacher Leadership Council, he handed out a document with their purpose statement, procedures and processes, and member list. They are working on things like a volunteer snack collateral for meetings, staff recreation outside of school, and other things to boost morale.
Bob said that the board has never really had terms. There are some established in the bylaws but they have not been voted on. There is a three year term but we haven’t decided how many terms a person could serve. In June of 2019 Wendy, Mike, and Claudia are up. June 2020 Beth, Jane, and Kerry are up. June 2021 Babz will be up. There should also be terms for the parent representative, teacher representative, and student representative decided on by the groups that appoint them.
Regarding new board members, Bob said that If we could come up with 6-7 people to interview and get on board we could have them ready to be introduced in June and serving by September.
Bob moved to go into executive session, Kerry seconded
Next Meetings: April 23, 2018, 5:30 PM