Common Ground Board of Directors- Minutes Oct. 2017

Board of Directors Meeting 10/23/17

Present: Melissa Spear, Wendy Battles, Michael Doolittle, Kerry Lord, Bob Parker, Beth Klingher, Monique Frasier, Claudia Merson

Staff: Elena Augusewicz, Joel Tolman, Kimball Cartwright, Rebecca Holcomb, Liz Cox

Regrets: Jane Lee, Babz Rawls Ivy, Frank Mitchell, Betsy Sneath

Guests: n/a

Bob called the meeting to order at 5:34

Public Participation: There was no public participation

Business Requiring Approval:

Claudia moved to approve minutes from the Sept. 18, 2017 meeting
Mike Doolittle seconded


Melissa presented a budget to the Finance Committee and the Board that has been updated with expenses and revenue through October 30, 2017 and suggested the Board adopt this budget as permanent for the year. The Budget may change when state budget goes through but not significantly. This budget is more realistic in terms of revenue and expenses since the June budget.

Wendy Battles suggested the Board wait until we have the final numbers. The Board agrees.


The Board is asked by Melissa to approve an expenditure of $7462 for a new boiler in Hilltop. The boiler was paid for with two checks, 50% up front and 50% after installation. The total was over the amount that should typically be approved by the board first. This was paid out of renovation account, did not affect operating expense.

Claudia would like to know if in the future can finance committee approve that sort of things instead of the board approving retroactively? Or have the executive committee do it in a timely manner?

Melissa feels that if the Board would like the finance committee and/or the executive committee to approve expenditures over $5000 they need to put this in the bylaws

Mike Doolittle moves to approve expenditure, Wendy Battle seconds.


Bob Parker reported that John Jessen has officially resigned from the Board: He plans to meet with him weds for coffee and exit interview.

Bob, Wendy and Melissa have a meeting scheduled with a potential new member who’s excited to possibly join board.

Melissa suggests the Board develop a board packet to give new potential member that includes a job description the board list, description of expectations, and general info about the organization.

The Board has a sample application it will use when inviting people to apply.

Wendy battles suggests the Board let people take an internship. Give them the whole scope of our organization.

Bob and Melissa will prepare a Board packet to give to potential new Board members.

Liz Cox asked what the Board plans to do about the Teacher Rep and the Parent Rep. The current Teacher Rep is ready to retire from the Board. We need a process for recruiting a new Parent and Teacher Reps with a similar packet.

The Board agrees there needs to be a succession plan for the parent rep and teacher rep. Also CEIO in the workplan, one of the board pieces is the critical friends committee. What does that mean? Does that mean adding critical friends to board? The Board needs to define exactly what the role of Critical Friends would be and what their relationship to the Board would be. The intent is to have people who will continue to push anti-oppression work forward. Do we have enough diversity representing the constituency we want?

Joel Tolman pointed out that as part of the Barr foundation proposal we have included a group of advisors per diem. People who have been leaders in residence and played critical friends role before. One variation is the idea of a board committee, with members of the board and non board members signing on together.

Claudia: that could help us make a pool of potential future board members as well.

Bob suggested the group should not be ad hoc. It should be standing committee.

Monique asked: So the sub-committee will come to board meetings and give constructive feedback about the org and board and those are critical friends?

Bob responded: They would give feedback on org issues, suggestions for new policies, suggestions for curriculum, the board members who go to those committee meeting should report back at board meetings.

Monique: So the next question is, is the committee only open to potential board members? Could you step back from board and just be on the committee?

Bob: Yes

Finance Report:

Beth: We reviewed the credit card statements and approved, we also looked at the bank statements and approved.

Melissa reported the following with regard to Budget vs Actuals through September 30: New Revenues include $150,000 from Barr Foundation and $10,000 title 4. Other Title funds went up due to student demographics and a few other things since last budget. Current updated budget is showing a surplus of $17,000 for NHEP and a CGHS deficit of approximately $20,000 which is a big improvement over approved budget.$25000 of Barr is going to be restricted for next year.
Melissa also reported that she had received notice that The CT Department of Administrative Services has completed the review of our construction project, they are now submitting it for audit. She isn’t sure how long that will take.

Bob discussed the new Board Agenda that is being followed tonight. Instead of individual program updates every meeting we will ask program directors to provide an update only, if there’s an important strategic organizational issue the board should know about.. I now want to give opportunity for an org update, I think Liz has one

Liz: Unfortunately we are recommending a freshman for expulsion. 3 board members will need to attend that meeting.

Bob and Claudia will attend. Mike will attend only if no other Board member can be there. Bob will ask Kerry and Jane if one of them can be there.
Melissa asked Rebecca to give an update on Nature Year, especially with regard to the one family who has withdrawn from Nature Year to avoid the risk of truancy. Interesting to see where this all leads because more kids will be running into it.

Rebecca: I will fill any lost spaces by this week. We lost a few students for a variety of reasons and family circumstances. Hamden has been marking students truant but there are no repercussions at this point.

Claudia asked: Has anyone proposed the idea of therapeutic gardening and it’s value? Is there a case for making the program part of a designation so that SPED money could be used?

Liz: We would need to determine whether “Therapeutic” is recognized by schools as valuable.

Kimball gave a quick Development report: The good news is that we raised $70,000 and met our goal for feast. The bad news is that although we are taking part in the Newman’s Own Challenge again this year there is no guarantee for a match or monetary prize. It is going to be more competitive. If we do well then we’re in the running for $10,000. I just want board members to be aware, that we will ask everyone to set up a fundraising page. The organizations that have 30-40 team members have won the Newman’s Own challenge in past. Hopefully we can get that level of participation. The top prize you can get $150,000 but you have to raise close to that amount of money. They are not matching anymore. Some prizes are by rank and some are given away based on other factors.

Wendy: Since the fundraising time is longer can you link it to the annual appeal?

Kimball: It will overlap with the annual appeal. However, it only counts online donations and there are some people who only send checks so we still will need a printed ask. We will not have an end of year email campaign if we are doing Giving Tues.


Melissa asked the Board to designate an Audit Committee to review the draft audit once it is available. :
Beth suggested the Finance Committee serve as the Audit Committee as well. The Board agreed.


Joel led a Board discussion of the Dashboard: We’ve been using this dashboard for a couple of years as a tool to meet a few different goals but to mainly communicate information. Are there modifications we could make to better serve our purposes? (ask Joel for dashboard goals slideshow). Are these the right goals and is the current dashboard reaching those goals? We could spend less time in conversation about departments and focus more on key strategic questions.

After a group discussion Joel felt that there are 8 or so changes to be made based on today’s meeting. Moving to website, cutting some info, labeling graphs better. Helpful feedback.

Business for Next Meeting:

Wendy: I am still waiting on info on the Board retreat from Isabell. We had a meeting a few weeks ago to jumpstart the process of new board members. Trying to get creative and reaching out to different people. Maybe a committee of people even if they aren’t ready for the board commitment. Our goal is to bring on several people this fall. I think we need more formal board terms. We also need new Parent and Teacher representatives. More to come on this next month.

Bob adjourned meeting at 7:03

Next board meeting:

Nov. 20, 2017 @ 5:30


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