Board of Directors Meeting Minutes- December 21, 2020

PLEASE NOTE: In order to comply with adjusted CT Open Meeting laws, this Zoom meeting will be recorded and posted on the Common Ground website

New Haven Ecology Project

Board Meeting Minutes
December 21 2020

For a recording of this zoom meeting please CLICK HERE

Board Members Present: Babz Rawls Ivy, Bob Parker, Charlie Negaro, Monica Maccera Filppu (ex officio, non-voting), Errol Saunders, Peter Ludwig, Christopher Albert, Terri Snell, Beth Klingher, Kyeen Andersson, Deloris Vaughn (5:37pm), Ana Reyes (later)

Staff Present: Bev Greene, Rebecca Holcombe, Monique Frasier, Kimball Cartwright, Joel Tolman 

  • Welcome (5:36)
  • Public Comment (5:36) (two minutes per person for a total time limit of 30 minutes, or by email; see instructions below) Sign up for Public Participation HERE
      1. Bob called for public participation. Seeing none, he moved to the next item on the agenda. 
  • Business Requiring Approval (5:36)  
      1. Beth moved to approve the November 2020 Minutes; Charlie seconded. The motion to approve the November 2020 minutes passed unanimously. 
  • Invoices Needing Approval
      1. Monica explained that the invoices pay for home delivery of our students’ meals during the pandemic. The smaller invoice is arrears for what has already been incurred. The larger invoice pays for the service going forward into the Spring. Babz, moved to approve the motion to approve both invoices to be paid; Terri seconded the motion. The motion to approve both invoices at once was approved unanimously. 
        1. B & B Transportation $6,300.00
        2. B & B Transportation $30,240.00
  • Executive Director Report (5:39) (Monica)
      1. Update about CGHS Student attendance and engagement
      2. Babz asked about whether we know about how other charter schools are doing. Monica explained that that data is not released until about a year later. 
      3. Monica explained that average daily attendance used to be the gold standard but was moved away from because it can hide persistent problems with individual students’ attendance. Common Ground has traditionally had very high average daily attendance. It fell when we went to remote-only instruction. 
      4. Monica explained the difference between chronically disengaged and chronically absent. Of the 14 students who are chronically disengaged, all but two of them were chronically absent before the pandemic. These were students who struggled with engagement before the pandemic. Of the 14, we have been able to connect with 12 of them. There are two students that we have not been able to engage with in any way. 
      5. Monique explained the strategies that her team is doing to support students and improve these numbers:
        1. Daily phone calls after attendance is taken; 
        2. certified letters home to alert families; 
        3. afterschool labs; 
        4. Saturday academy for additional help with math or projects; 
        5. altered class schedules to prioritize contact with the student; 
        6. case management system (8 different adults, assigned 5-8 students) which prioritizes contact with the student to emphasize well-being and reengagement with the school; 
        7. shift in schedule to emphasize academic support on Wednesdays. 
        8. Between conversations and case management that is usually how the school finds out if there is something going on at home that the school can help with. 
      6. Monica added that decision-making about grading and course changes are made with an eye to giving students a viable path to success. It is important that there are never any times when students feel like there is no way out. 
      7. Kyeen asked about the number of school days that a student needs to miss in order for them to be counted as chronically absent. Monica confirmed that it was ten percent of the total number of school days that have elapsed in the school year so far. 
      8. Errol asked how many of these strategies are responses to the pandemic and how many are usual strategies that have been ramped up. Monique responded that the case management system is the big pandemic-related difference. Many of the other strategies were 
  • Governance Committee Report (2:57) (Bob)
      1. Bob mentioned that the Governance Committee met on December 15th and discussed board membership needs: new members, Board membership, and defining the role of the teacher member of the Board. He mentioned that we will 
  • School Committee Report (2:58) (Monica)
      1. Monica explained that the School Committee is an ad hoc committee and did not meet in December. Our next meeting will be scheduled in January with a focus on the hiring process for the School Director. 
      2. Babz asked how many people are on that committee now. Monica responded that there are seven members on that committee now. 
      1. Beth explained that we are doing better on the revenue side and spending less on the expenses side. She explained that the biggest uncertainty is on the development side. Next month, Betsy and Monica will be working on projections to give us an idea about different scenarios. 
        1. Charlie asked a question about the PPP and who managed it the last time. Beth answered that Betsy has been managing it and following up quite frequently with the bank. Monica followed up with information that the PPP forgiveness is pretty bank-dependent rather than system-wide.  
        2. Charlie reiterated that he was asking about the new PPP program which will be passed today. Babz went to the governor’s press conference and reported that the state is working on breaking it down. She explained that eligibility last time would be a very good indicator of eligibility for the PPP program this year. Babz suggested that we might need to engage our legislators if things get bogged down.  
        3. Clearly indicating that he is a board member of New Haven bank, Charlie suggested that New Haven Bank would definitely be a good back up if we needed to switch banks to one that is more responsive to local issues. 
        4. Monica encouraged Board members to send any information about guidelines to her, Beth, and Betsy. Charlie suggested that Monica call him to field any questions about the PPP that he is 
      1. Charlie thinks that we are doing quite well in raising the $20,000 match that we were asked to do. He mentioned that individual Board member gifts and peer-to-peer Board member asks have been very effective.
      2. Charlie mentioned that we are behind where we want to be with major gifts. Kimball has been working in overdrive about this. What we need to do is to identify even more contacts that Kimball can pursue. January will be Thankuary, where we make a big effort to write thank you letters. Charlie also mentioned that planning conversations for Feast will begin in January also and he has been exploring ways that we can get alumni more involved. 
      3. Kimball elaborated further on Thankuary and what kinds of questions we would ask, etc. what inspired them to give? 
      4. Babz and Peter remarked about how fun it has been to participate in thanking events before. Babz continued that there is an existing facebook group for alums that we might tap for increasing alumni involvement. 
      5. Monica reminded us that it was only a year ago
  • New Business (6:15)
      1. Bob asked for new business, hearing none he moved to the next item on the agenda. 
  • Executive Session (6:16)
      1. Bob asked moved that we go into Executive Session to discuss Board development. Charlie seconded the motion to go into Executive Session. The vote was unanimous to go into the Executive Session. The Board returned from Executive Session at 6:26. No votes were taken in the Executive Session.
  • Adjourn (:)
    1. Errol moved to adjourn the meeting. Kyeen seconded. At 6:27pm, the Board voted unanimously and joyously to leave 2020 behind and adjourn. 

Next Meeting:

Monday, January 25th (5:30 pm)

Public Comment: 

In order to comply with adjusted Connecticut Open Meeting laws, any member of the public wishing to participate in the meeting must sign up on the Public Participation Sign-up Document. Sign-ups for Public Participation will open at 5 pm on the last business day before the meeting (Friday, December 18th) and will close at 5:00 pm on the day of the meeting (Monday, December 21st). Public Participation is limited to 2 minutes per person up to 30 total minutes. Anyone wishing to make a statement to the board can also submit testimony in writing to the Board Secretary: by 5:30 pm on the day of the meeting. All submitted documents will be included in the publicly shared meeting minutes.


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