Attending: Ruben Sepulveda, Keith Purcell, Chris Lievense, Stacey Phillips, Heyda Martinez, Ljuba Marsh Absent: Natalia Munoz, Bob Brick, Myya Seago, Melissa Mirhej
Pending Board Members Attending: Tom Gardner, Brenda Cepeda, Frankie Santos, Rhonda Soto
Absent: Kevin Dumpson, Jessica Protis
Presenters: Cynthia Marie, Andres Barraza- Finances
Visitors: Akesa Mafi, Rose Edwards, Jennifer Swick, Jariela Cruz-Caliz, Hazel Rosario, John Collura, Jaemary Rodriguez, Andrea Chakour, Meg Maccini, Chris Phillips, Priscilla Baez, Jessica Feliciano, Leslie Almodovar, Mildred Lefebvre, Irene Feliciano Sims, Trevin Bond, Julian Hartmann-Russell, Selena Goldberg, Kira Jewett, Eric Frary, Noritza, Elaine Brigham, Rye Zemelsky
Notes taken by: Ljuba Marsh Clerk Pro Tem
Call to order at 6:05pm with a quorum of 6 voting Board members
1-Call to Order-Review of Robert’s Rules of Order
2- Public Comment- Individuals spoke about the last Board meeting and wanting more order and working together- One teacher spoke about wanting to know about leadership during the interim principal’s absence
3- Approval of minutes
a- January 9, 2017- Heyda made a motion to approve the minutes- Keith seconded the motion. Motion was approved- unanimous vote
b-February 6, 2017- Keith made a motion to accept the minutes, with confirmation of meeting information referenced, Stacey-seconded the motion
The motion was approved- Unanimous vote
Ljuba spoke about Board membership and how after getting approval to access the DESE Board website, she discovered that several Board members were not approved, and many were out of compliance. She is working with DESE to make sure we are all in compliance and has been sending emails to Board members to inform them of requirements that might not have been met.
Heyda-spoke about the need for a Board retreat and an assembly, to bring the Board together and examine the issues we face.
4-Treasurer’s Report- Keith presented to the Board an updated forecast- with recommendations and changes- enrollment is up and a number of items were examined in terms of changes in the budget- Increase in tuition due to increase in enrollment. Cash flow might still be a problem due to not receiving funds until the end of June. Keith reviewed all budgetary lines with increases or decreases.
Keith explained how our accountant had differing reports within a four-day period, based on the information that was recorded at the time. The major change was fundraising, which brought revenue in during December and January, but it wasn’t calculated until the January report.
Keith explained that, even with positive revenue this year, we still need to reduce the deficit from last year, so we still need to be mindful of all expenditures.
Andres- Affirmed what Keith said and agreed that cash flow is important as we have fixed expenses, such as payroll, and we must watch how much money is spent this year. Even though the forecast looks better, we need to watch all spending.
Heyda asked if there is a conflict of interest- with any business making a donation to the school.
Ljuba stated that any new contracts we have with businesses would need to go through a State procurement process and that would identify any conflicts of interest.
Heyda- stressed the importance of meeting the required needs of our student and make sure we have adequate services- That we not cut any necessary services and that the budget process needs to take that into account.
Motion-Ljuba made a motion to allow for hiring the two academic positions and the sped position recommended by the finance committee- Heyda- seconded the motion. The motion was approved by a unanimous vote.
Cynthia-explained the bottom line and cash flow problems- cash concerns drove the decisions that were made.
Andres- stated that the finance committee meets once a month and everyone is welcome to attend.
Chris-has had problems with tech issues in his classroom and wanted to know when we would be resolving that with additional resources.
Heyda- stated that when we look at the budget and positions we need to address the needs of the school- as an example: if we need sped teachers, then Board members need to be informed of that.
Heyda reminded us that we need a salary scale for the teachers. That was promised.
Acting Executive Director’s Report- Joseph provided some good news about our sports teams- Our boys team won the league championship for the second year in a row.- Both the boys and girls teams are in the playoffs for the Boston League this week and fan buses will go to support them.
Enrollment reached our goal- we currently have 339- students-The feedback from the new students is that they are hearing about our school and the unique programs we offer, including our college program. Rhonda’s social justice programs are also attracting students- we are starting to see a turn for the better and the students who are now coming to us are very positive kids.
Joseph is having monthly conference calls with the department of education-they are asking questions and monitoring our school-someone from the school had reach out to them and asked about the roll of the Board with the school-
Ruben has also had conference calls and explained why the board is more involved with the school.
Keith-stated that DESE is looking at the financial factors and identifying concerns.
Heyda-stated that there is not a waiting list and that is a concern
Joseph explained that our wait list was a good size in March 2016, but that changes by October as students move, change their decision, or cannot be contacted
Joseph feels we need a position next year for recruitment and retention since this is such a crucial issue for the school
A suggestion was made that we have an Essential class of students-to do recruitment- that received a favorable response.
Joseph- ED hiring process coming to a conclusion and we expect to have someone in place before our DESE review. Joseph is meeting with staff in preparation for our review
Heyda-asked who will be in charge of hiring the new staff mentioned
Joseph- Joseph said that the Directors will do the hiring process and he will do the final approval of their recommendation.
Joseph reviewed the medical leave of Melissa- and stated that the Directors will be in charge of covering for her.
Stacey stated that she signed up to be a member of the social justice committee and wants to know what is happening, since they have not been meeting. The Chair is no longer a member of our school community.
Ljuba made a motion that Stacey be the Chair of the Social Justice Committee. Keith seconded the motion. The motion was approved, unanimous vote. Stacey will set a meeting schedule and inform the school community.
6- Interim Principal’s Report- No report was given due to absence of Interim Principal.
7- Founding Principal’s Report-
She has a meeting scheduled with the chair of another committee and will see what efforts have been made. The third committee has only met a few times and needs work.
Heyda said she would like to help make sure that the committees are doing their work. Heyda wanted to know who was in charge of supervision.
Ljuba stated that Joseph is in charge of supervising her work with the recharter process.
Heyda stated that we need to have a definition for social justice that everyone knows. Heyda mentioned that this was part of our last review.
Ljuba reported that we have three highly qualified candidates for the Executive Director’s position and all three are very interested in our school. The three candidates will be meeting the school within the next two weeks. Each candidate will be at school for several hours and will meet with each constituency group. Feedback sheets from those meetings will go to the hiring committee and, with their feedback, will make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees.
The schedule of meetings is:
Candidate 1- Wednesday March 8, 2017
Candidate 2- Thursday March 9, 2017
Candidate 3- Tuesday March 14, 2017
Students will meet the candidates from 2:30 to 3:45
Staff and faculty will meet the candidates from 3:45 to 5pm
Board members will meet the candidates from 5pm to 6pm
Parents will meet the candidates from 6pm to 7pm
Ljuba stated that she will send out information to the school community about these visits.
8- Staff Report– Chris reported that there were discussions about the recent Wednesday staff meeting- the staff wanted to know about the parameters concerning hiring and firing positions and the role and parameters of the Board. There needs to be clarification and have more transparency in the finance process- staff would like to be involved in the hiring process from the beginning- they want to know the timeline for the Executive Director- and the hiring for the Principal, including the qualifications, both State and Charter, and the salary of the positions.
They want to know how Board members are chosen and the qualifications for Board membership.
They wanted to know why the finance meeting contradicted the Board meeting after just four days.
They want to address the retention of students and teachers- a salary scale and long-term focus is needed.
Keith explained that it sometimes takes a while to get financial information and sometimes that information doesn’t come in in a timely way.
Heyda- wanted to know how do we avoid this situation in the future.
A comment was made that this is part of a growing and learning process.
Keith- stated that in the future the Finance committee will discuss any hiring issues and that will come to the Board for a decision.
9- Student Report –It was reported that the student council will have a movie night on March 9th and Wednesday bake sales- Student Council is working on what does it mean for PFSJ to be a sanctuary school. We are trying to reach out to other schools around restorative justice and work towards creating a sanctuary city.
Chris reported that the Student Council is looking at making a return visit to Rep. Aaron Vega in Boston at the Statehouse. They would also like to attend the MASC summer leadership program.
Student council would like resources to purchase shirts that student council members can wear. It will serve as a morale booster and will help them be identified in school. Joseph will work on that with them.
They would also like a restorative justice program with Palante for three students and chaperones.
10-Parent Report- Stacey reported that communication is key; parents are concerned with not being contacted in time for certain events- There was an open mike event that parents didn’t know about until a day before it happened- they would like the events to be posted on the website- they want to have good communication with teachers- and with the administration- they would like to know who is taking over the weekly newsletters- Junior parent meeting happening-who to get in touch with if parents are left out of the loop-parents feel- report cards didn’t go out on time-there was no follow through because of the delay-parents are upset about the Board meetings-we are models for our children- we need to get together and show how to model positive working together.
In contrast the Valentine’s dance was an amazing event- parents, staff, students helped with that.
11- Executive Session- (Ruben, Keith, Ljuba, Stacey, Heyda, Chris) Ljuba motion to go into Executive session and return to our regular meeting after the session concludes. Heyda seconded the motion – Ruben voted yes, Keith voted yes, Ljuba voted yes, Stacey voted yes, Heyda voted yes, Chris voted yes.
Executive session notes separate.
Regular Session resumes.
12- Unfinished Business
a- The senior trip discussion was put on hold until the next Board meeting
b- Clerk position- Stacey made a motion that Ljuba be made the Board Clerk. Heyda seconded the motion. The motion was approved with a unanimous vote
13- New business
a- Board Membership Two members of the Board left- Myya Seago’s daughter is no longer at the school so she cannot be a parent rep.
Stacey made a motion to reopen the parent position and Keith seconded the motion
The motion passed with a unanimous vote
Natalia Munoz resigned due to schedule issues and being unable to attend Board meetings.
b- Personal statements:
1- Heyda stated that she is trying to be helpful with her comments
2- Ruben said that if anyone was concerned about his position as President and wanted to vote him off he would comply
It was stated that Ruben is very dedicated to the school and he should stay but he needs to examine his communication with staff and community members.
It was recommended that someone else moderate the discussion if the President is actively involved. It was also stated that nothing in the bylaws allows for impeachment of the President. The term is for one year.
Heyda appreciates Ruben feels we need to be stable and would like Ruben to stay
Ljuba said that Ruben has been successful in getting Board business addressed. It would be important to direct his questions to Joseph and request visits to the school to Joseph.
Joseph- stated that he would like Ruben to stay but needs a meeting to review past issues
Board motion and approval to adjourn 10:10pm
Heyda was concerned about the reasons that students are not coming to the school and wanted some action- report from Execut
Rhonda Soto, a Founding Board Member, was asked by the state to step down while she was being considered for an Interim Executive Director’s position. The position is no longer being considered and Rhonda is wanting to return to her role as a Founding Board Member.
Motion- Ljuba made a motion: To reinstate Rhonda to the Board with a vote by the Board of Trustees, and that vote to be sent to the charter office-Vote approved unanimous vote
3-Public Comment- Ten minutes of time was set aside for public comment at the beginning and the end of this Board meeting. One visitor announced her intention to observe board meetings as part of her doctoral research. No additional public
comment came at this time, with visitors expressing a preference to comment at the
end of the meeting.
4- Minutes Approval- Minutes for the December meeting were brought to the January Board meeting but due to a lack of quorum, the minutes could not be approved. The December meeting minutes were waived until the official February Board Meeting.
5- Financials- Andres Barraza- Andres, who serves as the school’s financial advisor, came to address the Board with a full financial account presentation.
Andres began the presentation by reviewing the main issue for the deficit in our budget: enrollment.
The budget was set at 340 students attending our school. By October, we had a lower number of students and based on the 328 students attending our school, we are experiencing a difference of approximately $163,000.
The state has reimbursed us at a higher rate, based on projected enrollment, and now they are adjusting their payments to reflect the decrease in student enrollment.
This has a serious impact on our cash flow. We need to make cuts to meet our budgetary needs and to finish this year by balancing our budget.
Andre stressed that our budget is mostly fixed costs with limited flexibility. We have rent, teacher’s salaries and benefits, which we do not want to touch. The finance committee, along with the school’s administration, is in the process of discussing cost-cutting measures, which could be taken, identified three administrative positions that could be eliminated, without diminishing the quality of the education students are entitled to.
Melissa stated- in October Bob, Rhonda, and I made a number of cuts that were the least detrimental to the school.
Ljuba stated: one possible difference that can be made is to bring in more students. We have only one week before the state closes the accounts. If we can bring in 20 students who would benefit from our school, students who might have dropped out and wish to return, or students who are new to this area, it would change the outcome and would give us the money we need to finish our year in good shape.
Chris stated that he does not like to see students as commodities and with new students coming to the school, it could disrupt classes.
Keith and Andres asked that budgetary recommendations come to the Board’s Finance Committee from the staff and faculty.
Frankie stated that the well being of our students is important- too much at our school is internalized; “We need to focus on what is best for the school, not on individuals”.
Brenda stated that she did not know about the Board’s Finance Committee’s decisions. There needs to be a more open process and the school needs to take part in collective decisions.
Melissa stated that expenses should focus on the needs of the students- to have moral integrity in any decision we make.
Melissa stated that there are internal issues and the staff have contributed in every way possible-There is a new and highly experienced English Teacher- starting with the 9th grade; directors are each taking on a study hall into their schedules; for our math needs- three of the current teachers will be taking an additional math class- Paul, Jariela, and Eli will be adding math classes to their work schedules. Andrea will work with Joseph and support college needs- Rhonda will be doing student engagement and recruitment.
Heyda stated that we should look at the position of the Executive Director and change the leadership identified in our charter.
Ljuba stated that anything as important as a leadership change in our charter should be identified and determined through a strategic plan
Hiring Freeze- was approved in November until we could determine appropriate changes.
Bob Brick met with Rhonda and Cindy, our accountant, in October and cuts were proposed.
Joseph stated that Melissa was mandated to make specific decisions and that Melissa and he have to make sure we are in compliance.
Keith stated that the Finance Committee would meet on Friday, February 10, 2017.
He requested that school staff and others make recommendations come to that committee. The Finance Committee will recommend cost reductions at the next board meeting.
6- Executive Director Search-
Ljuba reviewed the Executive Director search process: 1-screening resumes to assure candidate met minimum requirements 2-structured screening interviews- to see if there was a values match with the school, 3-Hiring Committee hearing presentations of screened candidates and determining if the school should meet the candidate.4-Meeting with all school constituents and review sheets from all constituent groups given to the Hiring Committee. 4-Hiring Committee makes a recommendation to the Board 5- Board votes on the recommendation.
Ruben stated the process was distributed to all Board Members
Chris stated that the process was distributed but the timeframes needed to be included as well, so people would know what was happening.
Ljuba stated that normally the screening of resumes and screening interviews were conducted by two people
Chris asked if there could be more people at the screening interviews. Ljuba said that six to eight individuals would be fine and still keep the conversational nature of that interview process.
Ljuba stated that we have three excellent candidates for the Executive Director’s position, all highly qualified. Ljuba asked Chris to identify two representatives from the faculty to serve on the hiring committee.
Stacey asked, based on Social Justice, if we can alter the job requirements in our charter for the Executive Director’s position to bring in more candidates who might not have had the opportunity to meet those requirements. Tom sympathized with that suggestion, but said it would take months to institute a charter change and we need an Executive Director as soon as possible.
President’s Report- Ruben read a prepared statement about his work with the Board of Trustees as a founding member, Bob’s request that he rejoin the Board, and what he had been experiencing since his return in 2016. He said potential personnel cuts discussed at a meeting with him and staff were based on recommendations from the administration.
Heyda asked for more transparency and that the president should only speak for the board when the board has authorized a particular action or policy.
Tom expressed that anyone named in Ruben’s statement, could have time to speak to the Board on their behalf.
Melissa-discussed how the staff, faculty, and students felt about Ruben’s visits to the school.
Trevin Bond, Dean of Students, named in the statement, expressed that the school is like a family and he that he has always put the students safety and best interest first.
Tom- made a motion to extend the meeting time; it was seconded by Heyda and the vote was approved by a unanimous vote
Joseph stated he was asked by Ruben to follow up with cuts identified in October. He asked Ruben to make a statement to the staff about those and any additional cuts.
At that meeting, he said, it was Ruben’s answers to staff questions that gave the staff the false impressions about which positions would potentially be cut.
Motion: Ljuba made a motion to hire the four crucial school positions needed. Melissa seconded the motion. Tom asked if it the motion could be tabled until Finance Committee could have their meeting this Friday and bring it to the next Board meeting. Ljuba agreed to table the motion.
Reports from the Caretaker, Principal, Founding Principal, Staff, Students, and Parents were given at the regular January Board Meeting. Additional reports from Students, Principal, Caretaker, Parents, Founding Principal, and Staff were postponed to the next Board meeting.
Brenda asked to make a motion concerning the Board President’s position, and due to the lateness of time and the length this discussion would take, as well as the need for public notice, was asked by Tom to wait until the regular February Board Meeting to make this motion, which would be included on the agenda.
Additional Public Comment- with a large turnout and many people interested in speaking, the meeting was extended for additional time. A number of guests, including parents and staff, voiced a variety of views and emphasized the need for the board to be more orderly, work together, and resolve the budget crisis the school is facing.
Vote to Adjourn the meeting at 9:15pm