Board of Directors Minutes- June 2020

This is a draft edition of the Board of Directors Minutes to be approved at the Aug. 24th board meeting.

**For the full recording of this meeting please CLICK HERE**

New Haven Ecology Project

Board of Directors Meeting

June 29, 2020

Board Members Present: 

Errol Saunders, Monica Maccera-Filppu, Bob Parker, Beth Klingher, Kyeen Andersson, Michael Doolittle, Brian Springsteen, Wendy Battles, Babz Rawz-Ivy, Peter Ludwig, Charles Negaro (6:00), Deloris Vaughn

Staff Members Present: 

Betsy Sneath, Liz Cox, Deborah Greig, Joel Tolman, Elena Augusewicz, Emily Schmidt, Tim Casey, Stefan Christensen, Allison Hornak, Heather Nielsen, Crystal Fernandez, Keith Lambert, Amy Champagne, Jessica Pressley, Sierra Dennehy, Diane Litwin, Monique Frasier, Win Vitkowsky, Victor Rios


  • Welcome (5:39)


      1. The meeting was called to order at 5:39.


  • Public Participation (5:40) 


      1. Several Participants read from a prepared statement on behalf of the Teacher Leadership Council
        1. Emily Schmidt, CGHS Teacher
        2. Tim Casey, CGHS Teacher
        3. Stefan Christensen, CGHS Support Educator
        4. Allison Hornak, CGHS Support Educator
        5. Heather Nielsen, CGHS Teacher
      2. Darlene Cazarin, CGHS Student Click Here for Written Testimony


  • Business Requiring Approval (5:53)


      1. Minutes of the May 26th Board Meeting 
        1. Bob moved to approve the Board of Director Minutes. Kyeen seconded. Peter and Wendy abstained. Minutes pass unanimously among voting members. 
      2. School Year 2020-2021 Calendar
        1. Kyeen moved to approve the School Year 2020-2021 Calendar. Errol seconded. The School Year 2020-2021 Calendar passes unanimously among voting members.


  • Invoices Needing Approval (6:01)


      1. Errol moved to approve all of the invoices needing approval. Bob seconded. The invoices needing approval passed unanimously. 
        1. Active Network for Camp Refunds ($ not counted in FY 21 budget) – $340,000
        2. Rock 2 Rock Organizing Partner Checks
          1. Urban Resources Initiative – $18,143.42
          2. New Haven Leon Sister City Project – $8,000.66
          3. New Haven Parks Department –  $8,228.66
        3. Elm Shakespeare – $7,250
        4. Corporate Systems Consulting – $6,000
        5. JRA Development Consultants for Major Gifts Plan and Strategy – $18,000
        6. Berkeley Net Underwriters – $5,670.72


  • Executive Director Report (6:01)


      1. Report on 2019-2020 Goals
        1. Many Board members and staff-persons congratulated Monica on a good year of managing unforeseen challenges and engaging constructively with faculty, staff, and students. 


  • Executive Session to Discuss Executive Director’s Report (6:12)


      1. Bob moved to enter into an Executive Session. Brian seconded entering into an Executive Session. 
      2. The Board returned from the Executive Session at 6:39. No votes were taken during the Executive Session. 
      3. Errol moved to renew Monica’s contract for another year. Charles seconded. Monica’s contract renewal passed unanimously. 


  • Organizational Update (6:42)


      1. Graduation update
        1. On July 17, 2020 at 6pm, graduation for the Class of 2020 will be held in person on campus with social distancing practices in place. Students will be able to bring two family members with them to the ceremony.
      2. Development Committee Report (6:45)  
        1. The committee met Allie Donovan, a development consultant, at the last committee meeting. Allie gave the team confidence that they can meet our financial goals.  Babz encourages staff to have one on one conversations with Allie to help plan for fundraising. Moving forward with a group that can help support common ground without actively serving on the board. An immediate task is for board members to provide feedback on our case study by July 4th. The development team is going to send out an email about “gratitude notes” from board members and Babz encourages all board members to participate. 
      3. Finance Committee Report (6:53)
        1. EOY Projections
          1. Ending the year strong despite Covid-19. $132,000 earnings to go into the reserve fund next fiscal year because we negotiated increased reimbursements for Special Education services and some expenses have been down due to Covid-19. 
        2. 2020-2021 Budget 
          1. The budget is not drastically different from last month’s version however, there have been changes to reflect increases in individual gifts, and government grants. The budget reflects salary increases, an added math consultant and a development consultant. 
          2. Kyeen would like to know what we need to consider in terms of passing a budget while assuming that we are going to procure an increase in fundraising. Do we need to be concerned? 
            1. Beth said that we are going to have to watch it incredibly carefully. If it does not seem the fundraising is occurring we will have to look at it and we will carry over restricted funds to start the year. Must be managed carefully. Monica added that there will be multiple opportunities for success, and we are passing a budget that assumes no income from community programs. If they are able to contribute that will be positive. Kyeen could not tell where the additional increased costs is recorded or where the budget allows for increased personnel needs. Monica stated that we have contracted with our cleaning company to provide a day-time cleaning person to sanitize bathrooms and high-touch areas throughout the day. We got a grant for PPE. Different pockets of state money being offered are not recorded in this budget and that may allow us to get additional funds.
          3. Charlie moved to approve the 2020-2021 Budget, Michael seconded the approval of the 2020-2021 Budget. The 2020-2021 Budget passed unanimously. 


  • New Business (7:05)


    1. Return to School Update
      1. Monica stated that we are definitely in a difficult moment. We have been working as a staff on a reopening plan and sending out surveys. 
        1. Parents and Students in general want to come back to school but they also want to be safe. We all believe that regardless of how we start in September we must be prepared with a robust distance learning model in case we need to go back into that later in the year. We invested our time in Institute working out those details. 
        2. On Thursday, the governor released a bare bones plan that said all students should be in school every day. Monica hosted a call with students and parents to talk about this. Monica is very concerned about conundrums related to in-person schooling for every student and providing accommodations for students and staff who cannot be on site. Given these guidelines are new, we need to get better data from our parents about whether their students will be returning so we know how many students to plan for. 
        3. Monica plans to have a conversation tomorrow with a representative of the state BOE to discuss the state guidelines that came out today. Monica feels that we owe it to ourselves and our kids to collect more information. Monica can not make any recommendations at this time until we have more information from the state. We may need to ask for an emergency meeting of the board if new information comes out or if we need to make some final decisions about what our teachers spoke about at the public participation portion of this meeting.   
      2. Babz said that she is sure that a lot of the governor’s reopening plan will change. We should consult with some other charter schools after the conversation with the state.
      3. Brian agrees with Babz. He is concerned that the governor’s plan is based on economics and not on public health.  
      4. Kyeen said that, if we survey families again, it is important to include in the questions where we are in the pandemic now but where we may be in September. The problem is that the wishes now are based on current low numbers. We should make it clear with another question they should answer based on increased transmission; be sure to ask how people feel under specific conditions. 
      5. Michael wants to know if there is any concern around per-pupil funds, a reduction in that amount would be rough.
      6. Errol would like to say we should think about what we are asking of our teachers. Teachers are thinking about our pedagogical concerns. For him, we should think about health and splitting it half and half may actually be a worse pedagogical product all around. Teachers’ jobs are not babysitting, they are to teach children. That exists in relationships, in the ability to craft content that students can latch onto, the current hybrid models may prevent students from learning. We should make sure that whatever plans we make take into account the way children go through the world. 
    2. Bob wanted to mention that Liz Cox has been with us for a long time, and that she will be retiring. He wanted to recognize the incredible contributions she has made throughout her career here. 
    3. There might be a need to have an emergency meeting in July to discuss school reopening plans. 
    4. Next meeting on Monday, August 24th, 5:30pm – 7:30pm. This will be the Annual meeting of the board.
      1. Retiring members will submit their resignation 
        1. Michael Doolittle
        2. Wendy Battles
      2. New members will be sworn in   

Errol moved to adjourn the meeting. Beth seconded. Motion to adjourn the meeting passed unanimously at  7:29pm.

Next Meeting:

Monday, August 24th, 5:30pm – 7:30pm



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