Common Ground Board of Directors Meeting Minutes: January 24, 2022

New Haven Ecology Project

Board Meeting Minutes

January 24, 2022

Meeting Recording: CLICK HERE


Board Members Present: Bob Parker, Babz Rawls Ivy, Beth Klingher, Peter Ludwig, Chris Hayes, Joseph Melendez, Errol Saunders, Terri Snell, Kyeen Andersson, Deloris Vaughn, Charles Negaro (at 6:01)

Staff Members Present: Elena Augusewicz, Bev Greene, Rebecca Holcombe, Cherry Pacquette Emmanuel, Audrey Nefores, Joel Tolman


Bob called the meeting to order at 5:40pm

There is no public comment

Business Requiring Approval (5:45)  

Minutes from the December 20th Meeting. Bob called for a motion to accept the December minutes. Beth moved to approve the December board minutes. Babz seconded the motion to approve. The December board minutes were approved unanimously.

Invoices Needing Approval (5:50)

The following invoices were presented for approval. Babz moved to approve the invoices from Thurston Foods, Larosa Earth Group and  Henry, Raymond, Thompson LLC. Peter seconded the motion to approve these invoices. The invoices were approved unanimously.

Thurston Foods $5,188.21 for Dec. Food Supply Orders

Larosa Earth Group $16,588.00 for Compost Site Improvements, holding payment until we get USDA reimbursement

Henry, Raymond & Thompson LLC $6,275.00 for final audit bill and reconciling audit results

Executive Director Report (5:46)

Cherry explained that Monica is out sick today so she won’t be giving her usual executive Director update. 

Cherry presented her School Director Report. She discussed current changes to the student population and some recent staffing changes. Higher Heights is now on site Monday through Friday and some after school times to support students with college counseling. Cherry discussed the reasons for the delay in returning to the regular school schedule after winter break and some changes being made to the second semester schedule. Cherry and Joel were excited to share that 37 students have chosen to sign up for college classes at SCSU this spring, about twice as many as in past springs.

Audit Committee (6:07)

The Audit Committee met on January 6. 2022.  Deloris stated that three new audit firms have been contacted. The next steps are to share some requested information with each firm and then schedule meetings with the firms and the Audit Committee/Finance Committee members. The audit committee is meeting this Thursday to review information from the audit screening calls. There is information we will need to provide to the new auditors and then they will decide if they can take us on as a client.

Building Committee (6:10) 

The building committee last met on Dec. 15th, the building committee did not meet in January. We received the wetlands survey report and are scheduling a meeting with the City of New Haven’s wetlands officer to better understand options for building on our site. We anticipate that meeting to happen before the next board meeting and will report on that information then. The Building Committee is scheduled to meet next on February 16th. Bev said that for parking expansion to happen we will need to meet with the city’s wetlands department. 

Development Committee Report (6:12)

Audrey stated that they had to reschedule The Development Committee meeting for January 27th to discuss the EOY appeal results, development team hiring status and to review a forecast of development activities for the upcoming two months. Audrey was excited to note that we have surpassed our internal goal of $30,000 for the End of Year Appeal. The committee would like to shout out to all of the board members who supported the EOY appeal which has exceeded our goal and has almost reached our stretch goal of $35K! 

Audrey has started to screen candidates for the new Development Manager role and will have more information on that hiring process in the next meeting. 

Finance Committee Report (6:15) 

Beth presented the December 2021 Budget Vs. Actuals with EOY projections. This is the first time in the year where we compare where we are to our original budget. Beth went over some highlights of this spreadsheet since it is very lengthy. Our fee income is higher than expected and the total revenue projection is expected to be more than what we budgeted. Monica and Audrey have put into place a monitoring system to take a better look at the restricted net assets and segregate them which will resolve issues we’ve had in the past with closing the books for the year. Our expenses are higher than originally budgeted. Our payroll and benefits are tracking very close to what we budgeted. We are over budget on contract services mostly due to legal expenses and consulting services for Math and ELA. IT expenses were higher than budgeted. Many utilities have gone up due to inflation, fortunately some of the HVAC and Compost upgrades will be offset by grant funding. Our workers compensation insurance is up by $100,000. We left our last PEO and switched to a new company where we had to go to the open market to buy new insurance. The bottom line is that we are projecting a $130,000 deficit this year. The finance committee has charged Monica with the task of coming up with $130,000 in reduced expenses or savings to get closer to a net zero budget. 

Beth said that our auditor has been on vacation but when he is back Betsy will be reviewing our Accounts Payable and Receivable and interorganizational transfers.

The next meeting of the Finance committee will be on February 23rd . Interested parties can contact Treasurer 

Governance Committee Report (6:26) (Bob)

The Governance committee met on January 18th. Bob said that the discussion was primarily about current board members whose terms will be ending and the importance of recruitment of new board members. Audrey said that there are some additional folks on the Development Committee’s radar and that she will be passing that info onto Bob. 

Our next meeting will be on February 15th at 10:00. If interested, contact 

School Committee Report (6:28) 

Joseph said that the School committee met on January 13th. They discussed some changes that were made related to covid health and safety. They also discussed educator questions about grading clarity for students who miss school for health reasons as well as to begin the discussion on how to make up the 5 days of school that have been lost to inclement weather/Covid. The school leadership team has a draft calendar that they will get feedback on before asking the board for approval.

The committee agrees that it’s necessary to plan to have school on February 22nd (initially a day off).  The School Committee asks the board to amend the school calendar to hold school on February 22nd in advance of a full calendar revision to be brought to the board at the February meeting. 

Errol moved to approve that February 22nd be added back into the calendar as a regular school day, Babz seconded this motion to amend the school calendar. This calendar amendment was approved unanimously. 

The committee will meet again on February 17th at 4 pm. Anyone who would like to add items for the committee’s consideration or attend the meeting should email

New Business (6:33)

There was no new business

Executive Session (6:34)

Joseph moved to enter into executive session. Babz seconded the motion to move into executive session. The move to go into executive session was approved unanimously.

Adjourn (6:41)

Kyeen moved to adjourn the meeting. Peter seconded the motion to adjourn. The motion was approved unanimously at 6:41pm.

Next Meeting: Monday, February 28th 2022

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, January 21) and will close at 5:00 pm on the day of the meeting (Monday, January 24th). 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  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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