Common Ground Board of Directors Minutes: June 28, 2021

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 Agenda

June 28, 2021

Meeting Recording:

From call to order – 5:36

From 5:37 to adjournment: Passcode: e+Nt8r?s

Board Member Present: Bob Parker, Babz Rawls Ivy, Errol Saunders, Monica Maccera Filppu (non-voting ex officio), Beth Klingher, Kyeen Andersson, Peter Ludwig, Christopher Albert (ex officio), Delores Vaughn (5:40)

Staff Present: Elena Augusewicz, Joel Tolman, Bev Greene, Kimball Cartwright, Cherry Pacquette, Rebecca Holcombe, Crystal Fernandez

Student Present: Christopher Hayes

Bob called the meeting to order at 5:35

  • Welcome 
      1. Bob called for public comment and hearing none moved on to Business Requiring Approval. There was no public comment.
  • Business Requiring Approval (5:36)  
      1. May 24th Board Minutes: Kyeen moved to approve the May 24th Board Minutes, Babz seconded this motion. The May 24th Board minutes were approved unanimously with Beth Klingher abstaining.
      2. The recording stopped at 5:36pm because the machine it was being recorded on ran out of space. No discussion nor votes were taken during the recording’s suspension and the recording was restarted by 5:37pm. 
  • Invoices Needing Approval (5:38)
      1. Beth moved to approve payment of all listed invoices. Peter seconded the approval of these invoices. All invoices were approved unanimously including the business credit reports.
        1. Mackenzie Painting $6,000 – refinishing of the CGHS bridge 
        2. Math Institute of Wisconsin $5,600 – Professional development for Math Department
        3. WB Mason $27,094.57- New high school furniture
        4. Commission of Public Parks $20,000 – Annual rent payment
        5. Specialty Agricultural Products $9,650- New farm fencing
        6. Corporate Systems Consulting (John Overchuk) $9333 – 5 year agreement for third party management of all internal broadband services 
        7. Edgility $10,625.00 – Third and final portion of consulting fee for School Director search
  • Executive Director Report (5:40) 
      1. Report on FY 21 progress and outcomes: Monica shared the linked presentation with the board. She said that the theme of the year for her could be described in three pillars; Surviving and thriving in the pandemic, we were able to make improvements to our spaces and increased our staff to serve our students. The second pillar is continuing to make progress on our overal priority for Common Ground to be an Anti-bias, Anti-Racist Organization (ABAR). We have paid attention to the details, norms and relationships people have to their work and what shifts need to happen to make our work equitable. We now have a Professional Development Committee and a School Committee to oversee decision making processes on the school side of the organization. These changes made Common Ground more transparent. The final pillar was how to get to a place where our work at Common Ground is sustainable. We have improved our curriculum systems in the school and made improvements to other parts of the organization across the board. 
      2. Beth wanted to commend Monica on the job she has done in such a difficult year. We have become stronger. Kyeen agreed with Beth and gave Kudos to Monica for reaching so many goals. Chris said that the pandemic was a very challenging thing that we’ve faced and still is. but everyone’s working hard and pulling through.
      3. Bob said that the board needs to continue to be more engaged in the school improvement plan and how we can support that as a new team member joins to also support Monica with this.  
  • Executive Session (5:52)
      1. Bob asked to change the agenda order in order to go into executive session to discuss the Executive Director’s contract renewal.
      2. The Board returned from executive session at 6:16pm.
      3. Errol moved to approve reappointing Monica Maccera Filppu as the Executive Director of New Haven Ecology Project at the salary reflected in the budget. Beth seconded this motion. The vote to reappoint Monica Maccera Filppu was approved unanimously
        1. Errol wanted the minutes to reflect the presence of the General Will with regard to Monica’s reappointment.  
  • Governance Committee Report (6:19)
      1. The Governance Committee met on June 22nd to plan the agenda for the Annual Meeting on June 29th and to plan for the Evaluation of the Executive Director as part of the June 28th Meeting. Bob said that they sent proposed changes to the bylaws board to review over the summer and are open to suggestions. 
  • School Committee Report (6:35)
      1. The School Committee met on June 1st, June 15th and June 28th to discuss and review hiring practices, the 2021-2022 school calendar and the School Director search. The school committee is also planning on meeting August 24 to talk about issues relating to the student handbook. 
      2. It is Monica’s excited pleasure to ask Cherry Pacquette-Emmanuel to join us as the Common Ground High School Director. This decision was unanimous on the hiring committee and everyone is looking forward to her starting at Common Ground. Cherry Pacquette-Emmanuel has accepted the position and is starting on July 1.
        1. Cherry introduced herself and said that she was honored to be offered the school director position. She was impressed by her visit to campus. Cherry said that nature and sustainability has been important to her since her childhood growing up in the commonwealth of Dominica, a small carribean island often known as the “nature isle.” In many ways CG brings together many things that she is passionate about in her life, she is also a Special Educator. 
      3. The School Committee requests that the board approves the SY 2021-2022 calendar. Babz moved to approve the SY 2021-2022 calendar, Peter seconded the motion to approve the SY 2021-2022 calendar. The motion to approve the SY 2021-2022 calendar was approved unanimously with Kyeen Anderson abstaining. 
  • Finance Committee Report (6:30)
      1. The Finance Committee met on June 21st to review Budget v Actuals with EOY Projections as of May 31st 2021
        1. Beth said that this Budget V. Actuals document has a new column that included estimated projections for the year. Another important change is line 74, we had originally brought in $350,000 from reserved fund to fill in for losses in CP income but at this point in the calendar year we have decided that we do not need to take any money from the reserves. 
          1. Beth credited Rebecca and Monica for doing a great job with our community programs this year. 
          2. Beth said that we plan to transfer some of the money from the PPP loan into our reserve fund. Over the summer we are doing research with the community foundation of GNH who have experience managing Non Profit Reserve Funds.
      2. On behalf of the finance committee, Beth recommended that we transfer $700,000 into our reserve. Babz moved to approve the transfer of $700,000 to our reserve, Peter seconded the motion to approve the transfer of $700,000 into our reserves. The motion passed unanimously. 
        1. The Finance Committee asks the board to approve the FY 22 (SY 21-22) Budget. Monica said that we just added the end of year projections for this fiscal year. This way you can see the big difference between finances this year, past years and next year. Total contract services and equipment seems so high this year but it’s because we had grants and relief money to conduct substantial work. There is uncertainty about income from fee based programs in the coming year and how covid will continue to affect our daily operations. We are able to allocate development fundraising to CGHS side of the budget to be sure that budget is balanced. The high school does cost more to operate than what we bring in only from state per-pupil funding.
      3. Kyeen wanted to know about passing a budget with a net zero balance. Do we want to pass this with a net zero or do we want more room? 
        1. Babz said that the budget can never be finite, this is more to keep to the rules of the board and if there are changes in the future they are made at board meetings at a later date. 
        2. Bob said that if we approve a budget with a zero net it asks as a guidepost and gives the best estimate for what we need to support existing programs. He explained that we never vote to  change the budget but we do monitor the budget throughout the year to see how our projections change and if we can eventually add money to our reserve. 
        3. Beth said for the last two years we have had a budget with a zero net. Beth said that this past year was the first year we had a reserve. 
      4. Errol wanted to know if it makes it easier to fundraise with us looking good on paper as good stewards of our resources. 
        1. Babz said that this has been a discussion in our development committee. 
        2. Beth said that the finance committee recommends that the board approve this budget
      5. Babz moved to approve the FY 22 (SY 21-22) Budget, Peter seconded the motion to approve the FY 22 (SY 21-22) Budget. The motion to pass the FY 22 (SY 21-22) Budget passed unanimously. 
      1. Babz wanted to thank the Board because we have increased our giving by 33%. Because of this board extending themselves to their networks we have increased our giving and she wants to lean on board development even more in the coming year. 
        1. Kimball also said that it is rare to see such an increase in giving at this rate and we would not have been this successful without our board members doing this work. The vision is to see development increase at levels like this because you have shown that it’s possible when we are all working together. 
        2. Babz also said that our Common Table event was amazing and had a lot of people showing up and showing interest, then our graduation showed her how important our school really is for our young people and to continue this school for them. That’s a weight but it’s a weight we can carry because when you see the difference it makes in the lives of kids you want to do what you can to sustain it. She encouraged board members to spend some time on campus and at our events because it will refresh you for this work. 
        3. Bob said that he gets to actually sign the diplomas for graduation and it’s just the best. 
        4. Chris Albert added that the school is definitely a sanctuary oasis. When he heard about the P.O.W.E.R. acronym when he came to CG, he was skeptical. But as he grew at CG, he definitely found his position in the POWER system and it’s definitely been an enlightening and useful experience. 
  • New Business (6:56)
      1. Hearing no new business, Bob entertained a motion to adjourn.  
  • Adjourn (6:56) Babz moved to adjourn this meeting, Peter seconded the motion to approve. The motion to adjourn was approved unanimously.  

Next Meeting: Tuesday, June 29th 5:30-7:30


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