Common Ground Board of Directors Meeting Minutes: Meeting Jan 29, 202

This Meeting will be held By Zoom 

January 29th: 5:30pm


Present: Alexis Smith, Monica Macera Filppu, Liz Cox, Jeff Carter, Aubrey Bido, Brian Kelahan, Shelly Hicks, Monique Frasier, Kyeen Andersson, Terri Snell, Peter Ludwig,  Jen Burke, Clouds Mutale, 

Staff: Elena Augusewicz, Alex Eager, Morgan Larson, Joel Tolman, Sekou Koivogui, Audrey Nefores, Carla Lia, Diane Litwin, Cherry Paquette Emmanuel, Rebecca Holcombe, Diane Litwin, Crystal Fernandez, Evan Green, Jeremy Stone, Nuria Miller

Public: Emily Schmidt, Stefan Christensen, Allison Hornak, Tim Casey, Liss, Chelsea Farrell, Maya McFadden, Z Portman, Amanda, Brian Springsteen, A’Lexus Williams, Allison Kaas-Champagne, Amy Kaas-Champagne, Marco Cenabre, Emily Ent 


Alexis called the meeting to order at 5:36pm

Public Comment (5:36):

The full Public Comment can be found in the Zoom recording of this meeting. 

Chelsea Farrell, CG Union Representative for Local 2110: Chelsea spoke on behalf of Local 2110 in support of Victor Rios. She also read multiple statements of support from Esther Chiang (current staff), Tim Dutcher (former staff), Heather Nielsen (former staff), two anonymous current staff members and one anonymous current student. Click here for the link to multiple statements. 

Stefan Christensen, Local 2110/ Former staff: Presented his written statement in support of Victor Rios. 

Emily Schmidt, Former CGHS Teacher: Stated her support for Victor Rios and spoke about her positive experiences working with him. 

Allison Hornak, Former CGHS Teacher: Presented their written testimony in support of Victor Rios and their positive experiences working with him.

Rikki Brown, Former CGHS Teacher: Chelsea Farrel read the written statement from Rikki Brown. 

Tim Casey, Former CGHS Teacher: Stated his support for Victor Rios and spoke about his positive experiences working with him. 

Alex Eager, NHEP Environmental Educator and CG Local 2110 Staff Representative: Stated his support for Victor Rios and spoke about his positive experiences working with him. 

Morgan Larson, NHEP Environmental Educator: Chelsea Farrell read Morgan Larson’s statement in support of Victor Rios. 

Business Requiring Approval (6:06pm)

Minutes of the December 18th Board Meeting 

Jeff moved to approve the Dec. 18th meeting minutes, Brian Kelahan seconded the approval of the minutes. The Dec. 18th minutes were approved unanimously. 

Invoices Needing Approval

Peter moved to approve all invoices as listed. Jeff seconded the motion to approve all invoices. The invoices were approved unanimously. 


Executive Director Report (6:09) (Monica)

Monica said that she has been working with the school committee and others to make sure the numbers in the ED report were up to date and correct. We have added Teacher Absenteeism in this report, she wanted to remind the board that we do not have historical figures on this because it is a new metric. 

Monica presented the Monthly Budget vs. Actuals with Mid Year Projections. She also encouraged the board to RSVP for future school visit days.

Audrey highlighted the Development section of the ED report. She said that there are opportunities for board members to support fundraising and share our mission with their networks. Audrey and her team will be sending out more emails about spring peer-to-peer fundraisers: Rock to Rock and The Great Give. She presented data from past years that shows when the board is more directly involved in these events, fundraising has been higher. 

Joel reminded the staff that tomorrow is our charter school renewal hearing. Family, Students, and Alumni have submitted testimony on what they love about this place and how we can live up to our potential. Board members are welcome to send a long testimony to Joel and he will add it to the package that is being given to the State of CT.  

Audit Committee (6:33pm) (Gioia and Jeff)

The Audit Committee will not meet again until November or December 2024 to review the FY 24 audit.

Finance and Development Committee Report (6:34pm) (Jeff)

The Finance and Development committee met on January 25th  to review  Budget vs Actuals as of December 31st with EOY projections and Invoices for approval. The committee discussed strategies for deficit mitigation and planned for an annual review of finance policies. The Finance and Development Committee will next meet on Thursday, February 22nd at 4pm.  For more info contact Jeff Carter.

Governance Committee Report (6:35) (Shelly)

The Governance Committee met on January 16th and will share meeting updates at the full board meeting.  Effective January 2nd Bob Parker is taking a medical leave from the Board. Please contact with any questions. 

Shelly said that she has not received any nominations for the board co-chair role. If anyone has suggestions or nominations to please reach out to her or Alexis. The governance committee is also working on an end of year assessment rubric  for Monica and her role. 

Personnel Committee Report (6:35pm) (Monique)

The Personnel Committee did not meet in January. Please contact with any questions. 


Strategic Planning Committee Report (6:35pm)

The strategic planning committee did not meet. 

School Committee Report (6:37pm) Liz  

The School Committee met on January 24th and will share a synopsis of their meeting with the full board.  The next meeting date is February 21st with a possible interim meeting before that..  For more information contact 

Liz and the School Committee have asked Monica to review all admin staff roles in the High School to assess how they can free Cherry up to focus more on academic needs versus operations or discipline. The governance committee will be trying to have an interim meeting regarding curriculum. They want to strengthen the data gathering muscle in the school. They did discuss staff concerns and teacher attendance. Another staff climate survey will be sent out in February. Monica will be sharing info with staff and the board  regarding results of those surveys. 

New Business (6:41pm)

Executive Session (6:41pm)

Peter moved to enter into executive session, Shelly seconded the motion. The movement to enter into the executive session was unanimous. 

The board returned from Executive Session at 7:40 pm 

No votes were taken in Executive Session.

Adjourn (7:30)

Jeff Moved to adjourn the meeting, Peter seconded the motion to adjourn. The meeting was adjourned at 7:40 pm 

Next Meeting: February 26th at 5:30 pm

Public Comment: 

In order to comply with 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 26th) and will close at 5:00 pm on the day of the meeting (Monday, January 29th ) 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 5:00 pm on the day of the meeting. All submitted documents will be included in the publicly shared meeting minutes.


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