Common Ground Board Meeting – April 28th, 2014 – Minutes

Present: Frank Mitchell, Michael Doolittle, Claudia Merson, Miranda Bailey, Ben Gardner, Monique Frasier, Bob Parker, Jane Lee, Betsy Sneath, Melissa Spear, Joel Tolman, Rebecca Holcombe, Liz Cox, Kimball Cartwright

Regrets: Kim Futrell, Wendy Battles, John Jessen

Welcome: Members saluted Joel and the Rock to Rock team for a great effort despite the chilly, rainy start to the day.

Minutes: Claudia moved to approve the minutes and Mike was the second.  The minutes were revised to show that Bob had attended the meeting.  The board accepted the minutes.

Policy to Approve: Liz presented the free and reduced meals policy which had been reformatted using the new state format.  With the updated policy, applicants will be eligible for free or reduced lunch from the moment the application is received rather than after eligibility is confirmed. Ben made a motion to approve the free and reduced meals policy and Bob’s was the second voice. The board approved the policy. Invoices: Hailey and Aldrich invoice for $25,000 covering design, test, monitor, installation of geothermal wells. LaRosa earth group invoice $285,000 (subcontracted through CT Wells). Mike made a motion and Ben was the second. The board accepted the invoices for payment.

Construction: Melissa presented an update on the construction progress. To recap, the bids arrived several weeks ago with enough of a discrepancy between the cost estimates that it required some reflection. The general trades estimate was much higher than expected (sheet rock, elevator, bridge), as were electrical and HVAC, and will require some value engineering/research. Without major changes we could pull the number down reasonably by changing the diaper under the foundation, lowering the grade of cedar siding, etc. The building is complex and different from an average school building. It is unique and that might be confusing so some aspects may need reworking to be presented to bidders. A check in visit with New Haven delegation members suggested there might be some options they could support. The construction loan documents are in process. Still needed is the landlord cure agreement that the city must provide—allowing the bank to look for another tenant if necessary. Corporation counsel is working on it but has questions that include: was the septic system closed according to some regulation; where does the drain release; what pesticides were used here?  Fortunately we have an environmental consultant for this project and this is exactly why that was necessary. Melissa also noted the dedication of wetlands feature to Javier on May 23 at 11:00. School: Liz reported that students and school staff are looking to the end of the year and planning class trips, senior portfolios, graduation (June 16) student government organized skip day or field day (a community building event), health and wellness activities, a trip to east rock, hat days, spirit week, and a student driven event as a surprise. There is a new college and career counselor planning an exciting bunch of programs including mentoring and student ambassadors. 35 community members attended a “speed dating” event to meet students to mentor.  The first round of the new mastery test had been given and the data from the lottery had not been officially released yet.

Program: Rebecca reminded that May 17 farm festival is approaching (some help needed) and the seasonal change has begun.  School is slowing down and farming is ramping up. There are piglets, chicks, 2-3 field trips, afterschool, summer camp staffing up and some camp space still available.  An early childhood special day with staffers expecting 15 people drew 90 so this may become a regular event.  The next similar event is June 19 farm day for early childhood.

Development: Joel reported that Rock to Rock met the projections and our CG share is up a bit from last year.  It was also nice to have 97 people ride on the team with 632 people present on a rainy morning. There were high marks for the breakfast. Common Table is next up so send in the replies. Joel also mentioned the number of media placements is steadily increasing and that there are several grant applications pending.

Campaign: Kimball reminded that there is $114,000 to be raised in the campaign and the Great Give coming up. This year’s Common Table will be campaign thank you event.

Budget Preview: Melissa went to the whiteboard for this review (see handout).  Members should look over the documents for further discussion and vote at the next meeting.  $11,000 per pupil is expected and the draft shows some salary adjustments that complete the scheduled increases that began last year.  With the end of the campaign some of that staffing is rearticulated with development and fundraising more separated from engagement. There were a few questions about healthcare costs, staff programming including diversity work and then members were encouraged to review independently. The meeting adjourned by 7:10.


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