Common Ground Board of Directors Meeting Minutes: Meeting March 25, 2024

This Meeting was held in person

March 25th 5:30pm

In person at Common Ground – Hilltop Room 109

Present: Alexis Smith, Michelle Sepulveda, Teri Snell, Brian Kelahan, Clouds Mutale, Kyeen Andersson, Peter Ludwig, Alisha Crutchfield, Monique Frasier, Shelly Hicks, 

Staff: Elena Augusewicz, Peggy Middleton, Rebecca Holcombe, Cherry Pacquette-Emmanuel, Jen Burke

Public: Michael Doraz


Alexis called the meeting to order at 5:38pm

Public Comment (5:30): Michael Doraz from Pathfinders Inc. Deer Lake in Killingworth. His non-profit recently purchased the site on Deer Lake and runs a day camp there. They are trying to make the property more accessible for the public to use when camp is not in session. They are also looking to continue running programs for local New Haven Schools. Michael wanted to invite the Common Ground Community to their Earth Day Celebration on April 27th. He was wondering if anyone from our school would like to run a table to promote our work. 

Business Requiring Approval (5:43pm)

Minutes of the February 26th Board Meeting

Kyeen moved to approve the February 26th Board Minutes, Michelle seconded the motion to approve the minutes. The February 26th Board Minutes were approved unanimously. 

Healthy Food Certification Required Motions 

Healthy Food Certification annual process for school nutrition program 

Brian moved to approve Motion 1 of the Healthy Food Certification, Kyeen seconded the motion to approve Section 1 of the Healthy Food Certification. The motion to approve Motion 1 of the Healthy Food Certification was approved with one abstention.

  • Motion 1: Pursuant to C.G.S. Section 10-215f, the Common Ground Board of Directors 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, will comply with the Connecticut Nutrition Standards during the period of July 1, 2024, through June 30, 2025. 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.

Shelly moved to approve Motion 2 of the Healthy Food Certification, Monique seconded the motion to approve Section 2 of the Healthy Food Certification. The motion to approve Motion 1 of the Healthy Food Certification was approved with one abstention. 

  • Motion 2: The Common Ground Board of Directors 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.

Invoices Needing Approval

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

Thurston Foods- $13,700.06 for 2/23-3/13 bills

ABM – $8,038.24 (March $7464.08 and Jan/Feb Retro $574.16)- New Contract was approved at Feb. Board Meeting

Elm Shakespeare Company- $12,000 for Fall Elective and the Core 10 Residency

Executive Director Report (5:50pm) (Monica)

Monica presented a brief overview of the ED Report linked above.She let the board know that there are action items in the dashboard for the Board of Directors around Rock to Rock. 

Kyeen requested a document that would help her to understand why there is a difference in the number of full time staff in September versus now. Monica committed to providing the board with a report showing staff changes in more detail. 

Monica directed the board to the Charter Renewal section of the ED report and discussed The Renewal Resolution. There is a corrective action plan in place. Financial Viability Metrics are linked in the report above with data specific to Common Ground and the state rubric for assessing it. We did meet the standard for financial viability but the State of CT Dept. Education did encourage us to “pay attention to it” and Monica has provided more details in the Explanation of Financial Viability Metrics for CGHS

Cherry has started working on the corrective action plan that is due to the State of CT on April 8th. The school leadership team and the school committee has also given feedback to Cherry. She needs to submit a complete draft to the SDE for revision by this Thursday. 

Cherry shared additional data to the board such as staff absence rates. Cherry is looking into expanded Powerschool attendance technology in order to improve Student Attendance tracking and metrics.  Kyeen would like to know at the next board meeting how many students are close, but have not yet reached, to the 18 days that makes them chronically absent. 

Cherry directed the board to view Slide #9 in the School Data Slide Deck which shows our results for recent MAP testing, and discussed these with the board. 

Monica introduced Peggy Middleton, our new director of HR. 

Committee Reports (6:43)

Minutes for all Committee Meetings will be Posted on the Board of Directors Webpage by the end of each month

Audit Committee 

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

Finance and Development Committee Report (Jeff)

The Finance and Development committee met on March 21st  to review Budget vs Actuals as of 2/28 and Invoices for approval. The committee discussed concerns about spending at CGHS and the uncertainty of meeting our ambitious goal of raising $550,000 from individual donors. The Finance Committee Resolved to implement a spending freeze at CGHS  in the areas of instructional and program expenses, transportation and supplies until further notice except for grant-funded and required instructional expenses which must be approved by Cherry and aligned to a specific funding source by the business office before being spent.The Finance and Development Committee will next meet on Tuesday, April 23rd at 4pm.  For more info contact Jeff Carter. Minutes from the Finance Committee Meeting can be found HERE

Monica will share the Q3 projections with the board in the April meeting. This will help show where we stand on the projected deficit. 

Governance Committee Report (Shelly)

The Governance Committee met on March 18th to  and will share meeting updates at the full board meeting.  Please contact with any questions. The primary discussion at this meeting was the next steps after Monica’s May 3rd resignation. They will meet again tomorrow 3/26/24. They are exploring forms that will help to find an interim executive director. Both Brian and Peter are hoping to connect with Shelly to support the search for a firm. 

Minutes from the Governance Committee Meeting can be found HERE

Personnel Committee Report (Monique)

The Personnel Committee will meet on March 27th. Please contact with any questions. Monique has an outline of the ED Evaluation Process which she will share with the Personnel and Governance committees before sharing out to the wider board.

Minutes from the Personnel Committee will be posted HERE


School Committee Report (Brian) 

The School Committee met on March 20th with a curriculum subcommittee meeting on March 11th. and will share a synopsis of their meeting with the full board. Brian confirmed that the committee reviewed the data shared by Cherry, they have viewed the corrective action plan and he wants to highlight the resource needs of the school. The next meeting date is April 24th.  For more information contact 

Minutes from the School Committee Meeting can be found HERE

New Business (7:20pm)

Cherry will bring an updated calendar to the April Board Meeting

Executive Session (7:21pm)

Brian moved to enter into executive session, Kyeen seconded the motion it was approved unanimously. Executive Session was adjourned at 7:53pm

No votes were taken in Executive Session. 

Adjourn (7:53pm)

Jen moved to adjourn the Board of Directors meeting at 7:53pm. The motion to adjourn was seconded by Peter. The motion to adjourn was approved unanimously.

Next Meeting: April 29th by Zoom 

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, March 22nd and will close at 5:00 pm on the day of the meeting (Monday, March 25th) 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.


Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.