Common Ground Board of Directors- Minutes February 2017

Common Ground
Minutes of the Board of Directors Meeting

February 27, 2017

Present: Wendy Battles, Mike Doolittle, Monique Frasier, Beth Klingher, Jane Lee, Claudia Merson, Frank Mitchell, Bob Parker, Babz Rawls-Ivy, Melissa Spear

Staff: Kimball Cartwright, Liz Cox, Rebecca Holcomb

Guests: New farm manager – Deb Greg; Cornell Wright


Bob called the meeting to order at 5:30 PM

Public Participation

Deb Greig, Common Ground’s new farm manager was introduced to the board and shared her observations about her very first day of work.

Business Requiring Approval

Mike moved approval of the minutes of the January 23, 2017 meeting. Beth seconded. APPROVED.

Mike moved approval of invoices for payment – Springside Construction ($53,469.25), Hilltop Renovation ($8,104.04 and $28,484.89) and Monique seconded. APPROVED.

Mike moved to approve the Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) Policy. Wendy seconded. APPROVED.

Beth moved to approve the 2017-2018 Healthy Food Certification Statement. Jane seconded. APPROVED.

Finance Committee

Jane reported that the committee met prior to this meeting. They reviewed the bank reconciliation and the credit card statement reconciliation. We are fully in budget season and the committee reviewed the first draft and discussed the budget assumptions including Development, Rebecca’s programs and per pupil grants from the state. There is more work to be done to rollup the budget. They are toying with several questions – is there money for increases? Will any programs be cut? Do we add people? regarding salary increases, In addition, Melissa presented a six-month budget statement showing actuals and year-end projections. There will be another look at the projections at the end of the third quarter. Jane reported that everything is in good shape. Melissa also shared with the committee the timeline for developing next year’s budget and clarifying the committee’s involvement in that timeline.

Executive Director’s Report

Melissa has been working with the Finance Committee on the 2017-2018 budget discussing the many challenges ahead. She has been to Hartford twice to testify regarding new legislation related to the Mobile Market and to submit written testimony to the Appropriations Committee. She has also been involved with the 50K match fundraising efforts with Kimball, CEIO work and conversations about the current political climate. In addition, ongoing conversations with Avi Szapiro of Roía about the possibility of catering weddings and other events. Avi would like a long-term contract – still mulling this over.

School Report

Liz reported that it’s a busy time – strategy work, guidance work, an overhaul of the schedule that’s a major departure from the current structure, redesign of the 9th grade floor and a move to interdisciplinary teams.  In the midst of all that, it’s college acceptance time plus lots of anxiety around recruiting 70 students. Also working on partnerships with Gateway and other community colleges.

Programs Report

Rebecca is working on spring programs and summer camp planning which includes heavy marketing as it’s critical to sell all available units. It’s also “new family” season, many families checking out our programs. Working on renegotiating credit card fees; we spend roughly 20K on credit card fees to process payments for our programs.

Development Report

Kimball reported that we are 74K toward our goal of 100K through the 50K fundraising challenge thanks to generous donors. Looking ahead to next year, some state grants may be cut, there could also be some on the private side. Kimball is not projecting a big increase in fundraising for the coming fiscal year.  

Claudia remarked that the recent newsletter was the best ever! Kimball asked, in what way? Claudia replied that the language around our new focus on issues around social justice was explained in just the right way for new and return donors.

New Business

Board retreat – lengthy discussion about a board retreat this spring to discussion governance issues (should we add members? If so, who? What skills/capacities are needed?) and strategic planning as well as a focus on the CEIO workplan. Need to discuss “bread and butter” issues in addition to thinking about the future. Need to figure out when/where/who will facilitate. Floated the idea of a 1.5 day retreat. Possibly staff and board on a Friday night and all board on Saturday. Potential date may be the last weekend in April, after Rock to Rock. More discussion needed at next meeting.


In Joel’s absence, Bob encouraged people to sign for a Rock to Rock team.

Our next meeting will be Monday, March 27, 2017 at 5:30 PM

Meeting adjourned at 7:00 PM


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