(DRAFT) Common Ground Board of Directors Meeting Minutes: Meeting June 24, 2024

June 24, 2024 

Board of Directors Minutes

Zoom Link

Zoom Recording

Present: Alexis Smith, Karen Jenkins, Liz Cox, Bob Parker, Peter Ludwig, Shelly Hicks, Jen Burke, Brian Kelahan, Terri Snell, Jeff Carter, Michelle Sepulveda. 

Staff: Elena Augusewicz, Rebecca Holcombe, Audrey Nefores, Cherry Pacquette-Emmanuel, Peggy Middleton, Crystal Fernandez, Latasha Neal, Dr. Nash.

Public: N/A


Alexis called the meeting to order at 6:02pm.

Public Comment (6:03): No public comment

Business Requiring Approval (6:04)

Bob moved to approve the April 29th Board Meeting Minutes, Peter seconded the motion to approve the April 29th Board Meeting Minutes. The minutes were approved with one abstention.

Invoices Needing Approval (6:05)

Brian moved to approve the invoices listed below (reviewed 6/20/24), Jeff seconded the motion to approve the invoices. The invoices were approved unanimously. 

Elena asked the board to allow the Finance and Development Committee to approve incoming invoices of $5,000 or more until the August BOD meeting, as there will not be a July BOD meeting. Jeff moved to allow the Finance and Development Committee to approve incoming invoices of $5,000 or more until the August BOD meeting, Bob seconded the motion. 

Executive Director Report (6:10) (Karen)

Karen opened the floor to the members of the Management Team to report out:

Audrey extended thanks to many of the committee members for their attendance, participation and support of the Garden Party at BLOOM (Alisha field). Audrey recapitulated the event’s successes and challenges, describing the event to be filled with amazing conversation and community. The event raised about $12,000 and the team will be facilitating a final ask.

Audrey drew attention to Aurora Coon’s final days at CG. Aurora will be training the person stepping into her role, Katie Pelico, over the course of the next two weeks. 

Audrey shared that The Development Team has surpassed their internal revenue goal for the year, yet emphasized that the fiscal gap has not closed. 

Rebecca shared an overview of the Children Programs including: finishing the year off strong with the children participants. The majority of school programming has finished; in the interim the team ran “mini-camp” programs over the past two weeks and has been preparing for the summer camp programming. Rebecca and her team welcomed 70 camp staff for training and will welcome 250 campers on July 1st. 

Cherry shared an overview of CGHS operations including: finishing off the year strong with the students in the past weeks and the team is resting before the start of Summer School on July 8th.

Cherry also shared that over the summer CGHS staff will be facilitating Fall enrollment operations, such as diploma distribution, Fall registration, Chromebook distribution, etc.

Cherry extended thanks to many of the committee members and CG staff that helped build the success of Graduation. Cherry received positive feedback from attendees and participants.

Cherry shared that CG students have safely arrived in Puerto Rico and are checking into their hotels – the team is excited for the learning opportunities provided for the students, who will present their findings upon return. Cherry also shared that a high school group of French students recently visited Montreal and had a positive learning experience.

Cherry wanted to draw attention to the current numbers of Fall registration; the team is hosting more families in the coming months and have set an enrollment  goal of 240. 

Peggy gave an overview of the main numbers, which are a month behind. 

Peggy wanted to draw attention to the development of the NHEP Employee Handbook (2019), CGHS Employee Handbook (2021),  and the current training materials. She hopes to further dissect and develop these materials for future use over the upcoming months and will bring updates and discussion to the Board.

Karen asked if there were any more reports to be made and thanked the Management Team for reports.

Committee Reports (6:23)

Minutes of 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.

Governance Committee Report (Shelly)

The Governance Committee did not meet in June. Please contact Shelly.Hicks@nhep.com with any questions. 

Personnel Committee Report (Monique)

The Personnel Committee did not meet in June. Please contact Monique.Frasier@nhep.com with any questions. 

Minutes from the Personnel Committee will be posted HERE

Finance and Development Committee Report (Jeff/Elena) (6:23)

The Finance and Development committee met on June 20th to review May budget v. actuals and invoices for approval. For more info contact Jeff Carter. Minutes from the Finance Committee Meeting can be found HERE

May 2024 End of Year Budget Vs. Actuals

Jeff acknowledged the work of the team on the current budget and shared that the current deficit figure is less than the projected numbers predicted, which is a positive yet not to be taken lightly as the figure is still significant. 

Jeff shared that, in the effort to foster sustainable fiscal goals in the future, the goal for the Development Team was reduced for this coming year. 

Elena shared highlighted factors to the budget (Column D) for the Board to review – she is happy to answer any questions regarding the document. 

Brain asked what happens to fiscal deficits year to year; this figure rolls over to the next year. This spurred conversation about actions the Board will need to take to support this coming year’s fiscal goals. 

Members of the BOD attending a fundraising workshop hosted by the Community Foundation. The team will consolidate their findings and newfound knowledge into a report and plan to present to the BOD, in preparation for CG’s next steps in fundraising. 

FY 2025 Budget 

FY 25 Budget to be approved. 

Jeff presented: Budget Presentation for the Board of Directors 

Jeff emphasized that reaching our goals for this upcoming year will take NHEP, CGHS and the BOD looking through the lens of “a sustainable world,” with a strong emphasis on a collaborative load between the groups. 

Liz asked about the current wage increases (post Union) in comparison to wage increases and cost of living historically (pre Union). Emphasized the heavy responsibility of the BOD to fundraise in the next year.

Jeff raised the concerns of capacity this realistic budget poses, despite the new streams of revenue identified. Cherry agreed, drawing attention to the concerns surrounding the sustainability of the teaching staff. Cherry asked for budget forecasts (CVA, expenditures) to be reported earlier and beyond two years to be better prepared for hiring. 

Brian commented on the suspected impacts of the potential loss of certain roles/responsibilities at CG and how that provides a huge motivator for polishing CG’s portfolio and fundraising with opportunistic donors, funders, and partners, as lead by the board in partnership with Audrey. 

Brian asked Elena about the STEP increase process, given the cost of living, for those with Union contracts. A STEP level is solidified on July 1st and is used to calculate overall salaries. The most recent CVA was updated in October 2023. 

Cherry again shared a narrative to emphasize the importance of early budgetary projections (CVA) for the CGHS hiring processes. 

Liz asked whether this rate of difference is fixed; this figure is calculated by comparing this year’s and last years individual salaries to show the difference.  

Liz raised concerns about the potential loss of certain roles/responsibilities at CG, given the taxed workload of staff members. 

Karen clarified that these roles and responsibilities were not terminated, most have been vacated and  have not been filled due to budgetary restraints. CG staff members have taken on extra tasks in the meantime, which adds to concerns. 

Monique prompted the group to begin problem-solving these issues, finding both temporary and sustainable action items. 

Discussion to be had about hiring and staffing plans for CGHS and clarifying information between CGHS hiring and the business office, given concerns raised in the meeting. 

Bob raised concerns regarding the potential interactions with the State Department and that this risk should be verified. 

Peter added to this concern, emphasizing the importance of identifying new and improved fundraising tactics to help individual members and the overarching BOD goals. 

Brain and Audrey gave updates from the fundraising workshop, taken by BOD members, and the information gathered surrounding effective methods of approaching fundraising in this coming year. 

 Audrey identified many of the concerns raised in the meeting as broader (internal and external) systems concerns can and need to be addressed by further development and refinement of these current systems. In some cases, entirely new systems and mechanisms must be built to address these concerns.This all highlights the current efforts and workload of CG staff members, urgency in fundraising and an emphasis on collaboration in reaching this coming year’s goals. 

Karen adds that the team that went to the board-focused fundraising workshop have a deadline of two weeks to prepare presentation materials to BOD in order to take proactive next steps.

Jeff moved for the team that went to the fundraising workshop to present to the BOD in two weeks, Bob seconded the motion. (7 yes, 0 no, 0 absentions).

School Committee Report (Liz) 

The full School Committee met on June 18th, and the Curriculum and Instruction Subcommittee met on June 3rd. Synopses of both meetings will be shared with the full board.  For more information contact Liz.Cox@nhep.com 

Minutes from the School Committee Meeting can be found HERE

Liz wanted to draw attention to registration and enrollment numbers, mentioned previously by Cherry. 

Liz suggested  to partner with other Charter School(s) to share HS positions cross-campus. 

Liz shared that this is a “renewal year” for CGHS. Two correction action plans have been developed and submitted to the State – there has been no feedback as of yet. 

Liz recommended that two school guidance counselors present to the BOD on the operations of CGHS, college preparedness and steps toward our environment missions among students in the upcoming Fall. 

The School Committee meets next on July 17, 2024. 

New Business (7:26)

No new business was introduced. 

Executive Session (7:27) 

Alexis moved to enter into executive session, Jeff seconded the motion. The motion to enter into executive session was approved unanimously. 

Shelly moved to adjourn the meeting at #:##pm and Peter seconded the motion. The meeting was adjourned at 8:06pm 

The board returned from Executive Session at #:##.. No votes were taken in the Executive Session.

Next Meeting: The Annual Meeting will take place tomorrow, June 25, 2024. The next BOD meeting will be August #, 2024. 

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, April 26th and will close at 5:00 pm on the day of the meeting (Monday, April 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 Alexis.Smith@nhep.com 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.