Common Ground Board of Directors Meeting Minutes: March 28, 2022

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

Recording of the March 28th meeting  


Present: Bob Parker, Monica Maccera Filppu, Christopher Hayes, Errol Saunders, Joseph Melendez, Carly Osborne, Charles Negaro, Kyeen Andersson, Peter Ludwig, Terri Snell, Alexis Smith

Staff: Elena Augusewicz, Audrey Nefores, Diane Litwin, Bev Greene, Cherry Pacquette-Emmanuel, Rikki Brown, Iris Jiminez, Joel Tolman, Rebecca Holcombe, Disha Patel, Thea Williams

Public: Patience Christopher

Bob called the meeting to order at 5:34pm

Welcome (5:34)

No public comment

Business Requiring Approval (5:34)  

Healthy Foods Certification

Kyeen moved to approve the Healthy Foods Certification. Peter seconded this motion. The Healthy Foods Certification was approved unanimously

  • At their March 28, 2022 Meeting, Common Ground High School’s Board of directors voted “yes” to implement the healthy food option as indicated below.
    • Healthy Food Option: Pursuant to C.G.S. Section 10-215f, the board of education or governing authority certifies that all food items offered for sale to students in the schools under its jurisdiction, and not exempted from the Connecticut Nutrition Standards published by the Connecticut State Department of Education Department of Education, will comply with the Connecticut Nutrition Standards during the period of July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023. This certification shall include all food offered for sale to students separately from reimbursable meals at all times and from all sources, including but not limited to school stores, vending machines, school cafeterias, culinary programs, and any fundraising activities on school premises sponsored by the school or non-school organizations and groups.
  • The Board also voted “yes” to allow food and beverage exemptions, as indicated below.
    • Exemption for Food Items: The board of education or governing authority will allow the sale to students of food items that do not meet the Connecticut Nutrition Standards provided that the following conditions are met: 1) the sale is in connection with an event occurring after the end of the regular school day or on the weekend; 2) the sale is at the location of the event; and 3) the food items are not sold from a vending machine or school store. An “event” is an occurrence that involves more than just a regularly scheduled practice, meeting, or extracurricular activity. For example, soccer games, school plays, and interscholastic debates are events but soccer practices, play rehearsals, and debate team meetings are not. The “regular school day” is the period from midnight before to 30 minutes after the end of the official school day. “Location” means where the event is being held, and must be the same place as the food sales. 

Minutes of the February 28th Board Meeting 

Alexis moved to approve the February 28th minutes. Charles seconded the motion. The minutes of the February 28th board meeting were approved unanimously. 

Invoices Needing Approval (5:38)

Thurston Foods $12,393.37 End of Feb and all of March food bills

Joseph moved to approve the Thurston invoice, Peter seconded the motion to approve. The invoice was approved unanimously.

Executive Director Report (5:39) (Monica)

Status of Development for FY 23 and Call to Action (Monica and Audrey)

Monica spoke about the ambitious goals that we set for this fiscal year. The main purpose of these goals were to invest in our people and our place. We have raised significantly more money in individual gifts over the past years, 4x more than two years ago. We have a donor committed to matching every dollar we make from now until the end of the fiscal year. We have the opportunity as a community to reach our budget goals thanks to this match. 

Audrey added that we have an exciting opportunity but there is urgency around fundraising before the end of the fiscal year. This match signifies that the donor understands 2022 has been a difficult year for non-profits and that we have some long term donors who are willing to contribute more. Audrey shared a slide deck with the group: PRESENTATION

Update on Child Nutrition Program (Bev)

Bev shared a slide deck with the group, this is in response to a question posed at the last board meeting. Child Nutrition Update March 28, 2022

Midyear data report from Common Ground High School (Cherry)

Cherry shared her data report out to the group. Errol asked some clarifying questions and suggested restructuring the way we report on the ELL group. Cherry stated that February was our strongest attendance month, it was around 29%, March has an absentee rate of around 52%.

Abbreviations used in Cherry’s report:
SPED- Special Education population
ELL- English Language Learners
FRPL- Students who receive free/reduced lunch

Audit Committee (6:41) (Monica)

The Audit Committee has selected the new auditor, PKF O’Connor Davies LLP.  The firm has significant audit experience with CT charter schools. The next steps in the transition are now in the hands of staff and the audit committee won’t begin meeting again until they prepare to review the findings of the FY 22 audit in the fall of 2022.

Building Committee (6:41) (Bev) 

The building committee met on March 16th to discuss a proposed site for additional parking on Svigals is preparing a proposal for the costs of next steps including further site studies. The next meeting of the building committee is on Wednesday, April 20th where we hope to review the proposals before sharing with the board.

Development Committee Report (6:) (Alexis)

The Development Committee met on Wednesday, March 16 to discuss upcoming fundraising events. Alexis reiterated Audreys statement about the Great Give which is approaching on May 4-5, we need all board members’ support on this. Aurora (the new member of the Development/Communications team) has built fundraising profile pages for all board members and will be reaching out 1:1 to discuss individual outreach plans. The Development Committee will also be asking all Board Members to support us in reaching our fundraising goals by the end of the year in NEW ways. It’s one thing to like/share on social media but we need board members to take active techniques to reach out to others. All hands on deck.

Finance Committee Report (6:44) (Carly)

The Finance Committee met on March 17th to review budget vs actuals as of February 28th. The finance committee is focused on development and fundraising. Betsy and Beth have been reviewing the budget and determining where we can save money. Monica stated that the deficit stands at around $25,000 right now and they are working on whittling that down.

Governance Committee Report (6:45) (Bob)

The Governance Committee met on March 22, 2022 and reviewed the board member application from Abby Roth. Attached here is Abby’s application and her brief bio. The committee unanimously recommended that the board approve Abby for membership. 

Peter moved to approve Abby Roth’s board membership, Errol seconded this motion. Abby Roth’s board membership was unanimously approved. 

The Governance Committee has established the Labor Committee and recommended that the board authorize this group to negotiate the terms of a new contract between the board and UAW Local 2110, representing Common Ground staff. The members of the labor committee are Monica, Bev, Bob, Mike Doolittle (a former board member). Bob hopes that Michaels historical context will help us with the negotiations. The Labor Committee is a temporary committee with no set timeline.

Peter moved to authorize the Labor Committee to enter into negotiations on a contract with UAW Local 2110. Errol seconded the motion. The motion was approved with Joseph abstaining. 

Bob said that there is an upcoming board training on April the 11th at 5:30 where we will work with our lawyer to learn about upcoming negotiations with the union. This training will be recorded so that all board members can review it. 

The next regular meeting of the governance committee is April 19, 2022. Questions can be directed to

School Committee Report (6:54) (Monica)

The School Committee met on Thursday, March 24th to review proposed student handbook amendments as well as the need to add June 30th as a final school day (due to an additional weather-related closure). The school committee requests the board approve THESE AMENDMENTS To the student handbook for implementation in the current school year and THIS AMENDED CALENDAR 

Alexis moved to approve the addition of the Mental Health Wellness Day Policy to the student handbook. Kyeen seconded the motion. The movement to approve the the addition of the Mental Health Wellness Day Policy to the student handbook was approved unanimously

Kyeen moved to approve adding the Skateboard Policy to the student handbook, Errol seconded. The movement to add the Skateboard Policy to the student handbook was approved unanimously

Errol moved to approve the amended calendar, Alexis seconded the amended calendar changes. The amended calendar was approved unanimously. 

New Business (7:00)

No new business

Executive Session (7:01)

Alexis moved to enter into executive session. Peter seconded the movement to enter into executive session. This move was approved unanimously.

Adjourn (7:03)

Peter moved to adjourn the meeting. Carly seconded the motion to adjourn the meeting. The motion to adjourn was approved unanimously.

Next Meeting: Monday, April 25th 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, February 25th) and will close at 5:00 pm on the day of the meeting (Monday, February 28th). 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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