Common Ground Board of Directors: August 13 Meeting Minutes

**For the full recording of this meeting please CLICK HERE, Password: cPp60S#M**

New Haven Ecology Project

Board of Directors Special Meeting

August 13, 2020

Board Members Present: 

Kyeen Andersson, Wendy Battles, Michael Doolittle, Monica Maccera-Filppu, Brian Springsteen, Beth Klingher, Bob Parker, Charles Negaro, Peter Ludwig, Babz Rawz-Ivy, Terri Snell, Errol Saunders, 

Staff Members Present: 

Joel Tolman, Betsy Sneath, Stefan Christensen, Kimball Cartwright, Rebecca Holcombe, Allison Hornak, Ana Rosa, Jessica Pressley, Evan Green  

  • Welcome (5:36)
      1. The meeting was called to order at 5:36 by Bob Parker.
  • Public Participation (5:38) 
      1. Several members of the public submitted written statements concerning the CGHS reopening plans: Emily Schmitt, Camille Ansley, Darice Corey, Darlenne, Edmundo and Varvara Flores, Leslie Blatteau, Michele Bragg-Phillips, A’Lexus Williams, Ana Rosa, Stefan Christensen, Allison Hornak, Iris Jimenez, Jessica Pressley, Patience’s Family, Sierra Dennehy, Brian Springsteen, and Joel Tolman.  
        1. (Please note that contact information and the names of minors were intentionally redacted from the public statements)
      2. Additionally, a petition was submitted in “Support for Requesting a Remote Waiver”
      3. Stefan Christensen – CGHS educator
        1. Stefan spoke in favor of CGHS aligning reopening plans with the New Haven Public Schools
      4. Sam spoke on his behalf and on behalf of fellow student Ana – both CGHS students
        1. Sam and Ana’s statements were in favor of returning to school.
      5. Allison Hornak – CGHS educator
        1. Allison spoke in favor of CGHS aligning reopening plans with the New Haven Public Schools
      6. Camille Ansley – CGHS Parent 
        1. Camille spoke in favor of CGHS opening entirely remotely in the fall. 
      7. Jessica Pressley – CGHS educator 
        1. Jessica asked pointed questions of the Board about the specifics of the hybrid plan.
      8. Jody Kelly – CGHS grandparent
        1. Jody spoke in favor of in-person teaching and the hybrid plan and asked if teachers could be tested for COVID before the start of school. Jody also asked about whether Common Ground has the option of breaking with NHPS. 
      9. Claudia Rojas – CGHS parent
        1. Claudia spoke in favor of in-person teaching and the hybrid plan. 
      10. Alexandra Bravo- CGHS parent
        1. Alexandra spoke in favor of in-person teaching and the hybrid plan.
      11. Evan Green – CGHS educator
        1. Evan spoke about his safety reservations if we went into a hybrid model and how building institutional flexibility would about shifting plans would make him more comfortable. 
      12. The board debated what kind of affordances to make for reading the statements that were submitted ahead of time. This debate was complicated by how tight the timeline was between when statements were due to allow maximum public participation for an emergency meeting and the timing of the meeting. 
  • Business Requiring Approval (6:10-7:52)
    1. CGHS Reopening plan
      1. Monica presented the school’s proposed hybrid model. Her presentation can be found here. 
    2. Board spent time to read public testimony that was submitted ahead of time (25 minutes – 6:47-7:10)
    3. Kyeen commented that she did not have time to read all of the documents and would like more time to read through the information and would advocate for more time to consider the public comment. 
    4. Wendy agreed with Kyeen about needing more time for considering public comment and asked for Monica to compare the maximum number of students on campus under the hybrid plan would compare to those that were on campus during the summer. 
      1. Monica responded that camp alone was 100 people, more than would be in the cohort. But what they are going to be able to do during the school year 
    5. Peter asked about testing requirements. 
      1. Monica is not opposed to testing but responded that it would be unrealistic to say that CGHS would provide testing. She mentioned that testing works best when it’s consistent and CGHS does not have the capacity to do that. There is also a significant concern
    6. Charlie asked about what other charter schools in the area are doing. 
      1. Monica responded about the differences between CGHS plan and other networks. She attributed those differences in plans to differences in what parents wanted when they were surveyed at the different schools. 
      2. Babz asked about the demographic differences between who asked for which kind of model for school in the CGHS survey.
        1. Monica responded that that information was not collected in the original survey to CG families. 
    7. Kyeen asked if Monica can send out the most recent slide show. She also asked what specifically the vote would be that we are asking.
      1. Bob clarified that the vote would be to support the plan that Monica put 
    8. Charlie asked why Monica did not just go ahead with what New Haven is doing. 
      1. Monica would not request a waiver from the State without consulting the Board. She explained that the commissioner has given her powers to choose between a hybrid and an all-in person model. 
      2. Brian asked why requesting a waiver of the State would be risky. 
      3. Monica said that it goes against what we have been told to do, it is not what Monica thinks we have justification for, and would possibly put the charter at risk. 
    9. Brian commented about the New Haven Public Schools Board of Education was pressured by public outcry to go entirely remote against the wishes of the superintendent. He advocated for aligning the CGHS plan with that of the New Haven Public Schools on equity and solidarity grounds.
    10. Kyeen asked whether or not this plan can happen if faculty were given a choice as to whether or not they could teach in-person. 
      1. Monica replied that faculty had been given such a choice; that she had spoken individually to faculty members who were being asked to come to campus and that only three had requested accommodations.
    11. Babz commented on the unique position of CGHS to hold in-person classes. And that CG can then pivot if needed. 
    12. Errol agreed with Babz, disagreed with Brian, and stated his strong support of Monica’s plan. 
    13. Bob, seeing the time, and understanding that the Board would meet again in the near future, cut off conversation before every Board member was able to speak, and shifted to determining the next board date. 
      1. Bob asked each board member whether they needed more time and if they were available to meet on Sunday. Seeing that everyone present was available on Sunday, the Board agreed to hold another emergency meeting then. 
  1. We will hold our next meeting on Sunday, August 16, 5:30 – 7:00pm. 
  2. Meeting adjourned at 7:54pm.
    1. Kyeen moved to adjourn. Peter seconded. Motion to adjourn passed unanimously. 

Next Meeting:

Sunday, August 16th, 5:30 – 7:00pm. 



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