Board of Trustees Meeting March 13, 2017 Minutes

Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School

Board of Trustees Meeting March 13, 2017



Attending: Ruben Sepulveda, Chris Lievense, Stacey Phillips, Heyda Martinez, Ljuba Marsh Absent: Keith Purcell, Joseph Wise, Melissa Mirhej, Bob Brick


Pending Board Members Attending: Rhonda Soto, Brenda Cepeda, Frankie Santos

Absent:, Tom Gardner, Kevin Dumpson


Visitors: Meg Maccini, Selena Goldberg, Leslie Almodovar


Notes taken by: Ljuba Marsh, Clerk


1- Call to Order at 6:15pm


2- Public Comment- No one presented at this time- The Chair will open it again later in the meeting if anyone is interested in speaking


3- Approval of Minutes:


a-Rhonda Soto was listed as attending in visitors and needs to change to attending as a Pending Board Member.

b-Ruben’s name was misspelled

c-On Pg. 3 Joseph’s comment on the waiting list should be clarified as March 2016.


Stacey made a motion to accept the minutes as amended. Heyda seconded the motion. The minutes were approved by a unanimous vote.


4-Motion: A motion was made to affirm the Executive session decision.

Ljuba moves to affirm the executive session. Heyda seconded the motion.

Ruben made the following statement:

The Board in its last meeting authorized an executive session to discuss legal strategy regarding a pending legal matter. The decision was made in that meeting, by unanimous roll-call vote, to retain Attorney Jenny A. Daniell to represent the school and board in responding to a pending legal matter and in other legal matters that might arise. Any expenditure beyond the approved amount will revert back to the Board for its consideration. The motion was accepted by a

unanimous vote.




5- Finance Report: Keith was not attending the meeting and Ljuba presented the financial report.

  • February showed no major changes to the forecast that was presented at the last board meeting.
  • Pre-enrollment numbers for FY18 were given to DESE…350. This is an increase of 10 students compared to this year of 340. Our school has a current enrollment of 339 student. Ljuba stated that the 350 is below the projected enrollment in our charter, which had us at 500 students for the following year. The reason we are below in enrollment is because of space/facility considerations. We should have been in a permanent site and are still working on that issue. It was decided to continue to discuss this in New Business.
  • It was mentioned that we will be possibly be rehiring a math teacher at his previous salary and benefits. This will reduce the projected surplus, but hopefully we can raise additional fundraising dollars to cover this cost. But even if we don’t, the school will still finish the year with a healthy surplus of around $260k. It was reported that if this teacher returns, it will free up some of the positions that are covering those classes and will have positive benefits for the math department.
  • The cash flow for March shows an additional $90k in fundraising. This money is coming from Igualidad. Around $60k is unrestricted, and around $30k is restricted to programs the school already has in place.
  • The cash flow, assuming no additional fundraising for the year, should finish off the year without maxing out on our line of credit. Frankie asked if the entire budget was distributed each month. Ljuba explained that we receive a summary of the budget with line items, but not all the details to those lines. Frankie asked how is it decided what information goes to the Board. Ljuba suggested that his question be asked to our Accountant who prepares the report for the Board meetings.
  • Ljuba mentioned some additional fundraising for the school before the end of this school year. There were several grants that we are waiting to hear about, and an event to raise money. It is a Social Justice Award event at Holyoke City Hall. We are asking Valley organizations to nominate individuals who have made a positive impact in our community and they will receive awards at a dinner. Each organization receives a table of 10 free for inviting the nominee, family members and co-workers. We expect to have about 15 people receiving awards. We will be finding sponsors, doing a silent auction, and an ask at the event to support our school. Ljuba recommended a nominee from our school, but it was decided that the school would identify a candidate. Brenda Cepeda volunteered to facilitate the process to identify a candidate. She understood that it needed to be completed in a short period of time- approximately two weeks. Some members of the Board were concerned with the fundraiser. Ljuba reminded the Board that it was reported to the Board in October and again in her reports. It was too late to change the event and it was the decision of Igualidad to run the event. Rhonda suggested Ed Casey- Our Safe Neighborhoods as a nominee.
  • Acting ED and Central Source will start the process of creating the FY18 budget this week. Deadline to complete the budget, have it approved by the board and submit to DESE is 6/30.


6- Executive Director Report- Acting ED absent and will give a report at the next Board meeting.


7-Principal’s Report- Principal is absent-no report this month


8-Founding Principal’s Report- Hiring Process for ED

Ljuba reported that we have three very strong candidates for the Executive Director’s position. Two candidates have finished meeting with our community, and the third candidate will meet on Wednesday, March 15, 2017. All the feedback sheets will go to the Hiring Committee for review on Saturday, March 18, 2017 and they will determine their recommendation to the Board. The recommendation will be shared with the Board at a Special Board meeting on Monday, March 20, 2017. If the Board approves the recommendation, a Letter of Agreement will be sent to the candidate and a meeting will take place between the candidate and the Executive Committee. With recommendations from the Finance Committee, a contract will be determined.

Chris raised a concern that students were told that only the ones who sat in on the first interview would be allowed to go to the other candidates’ interviews. Rhonda stated that she asked all the students who wanted to be part of the process and everyone had a chance to take part. A large number of students are taking part in the process. Chris said some students were not informed and Stacey agreed. Both thought anyone should be allowed to attend.

9-Staff Report-

  1. At the last staff meeting the staff wanted to know:
  • How and when actions would be taken on requests made during the board meeting, in particular the parameters of the board including hiring and firing, interaction with staff, etc.
  • More information and transparency around the budget (line item spread sheets) and the finances of the school.
  • How people became board members and qualifications for board membership.
  • The qualifications for the Executive Director and the Principal both from the state’s perspective and the school’s charter.
  • Completion of a grievance process
  • Completion of a salary scale.




  • The staff was also concerned about:
  • Joseph covering too many jobs
  • Need for leadership

3- Plans for retention of teachers and students


10-Student report- Frankie reported that students participated in the White Ribbon Day, to end domestic violence. He felt is was a successful experience.


11-Parent report-at the last parent meeting there was concern about:

  1. Students picking up after themselves and pride in taking care of the building
  2. Issues with bathrooms
  3. Leaving food outside and feeding wildlife is a danger
  4. Need for school pride
  5. Need for a better building for a school
  6. Parents were concerned about the March “A day without a woman” It was seen as privileged to call out of work. They felt there was a lack of education around what this day was really about. Many parents felt that more collaboration and communication between teachers and families was needed
  7. Gladys the nurse is part time now, and there is concern with nursing subs.
  8. Parents would like postings for summer programs accessible, so that students will have activities to do this coming summer.
  9. Parents asked if next year there can be a mandatory Junior Essential program that deals with scholarships, job programs, certifications
  10. Basketball teams won the championship and were offered a jacket or a ring. They chose rings and that needs to be followed through.


Stacey reported that there will be a mandatory meeting 3/15 for seniors. There are 68 graduating seniors. At the meeting there will be a discussion about senior fundraising, prom dress donations. There needs to be a fundraiser that provides the students with money for prom and graduation. One parent would like a class ring ceremony. There needs to be more brainstorming for more senior fundraising.

12- Unfinished Business- Issues will wait until the next Board meeting

13- New Business- Ruben said that Bob Brick wanted to work with O’Connell on a new site for the school.

Ruben stated that our contract with our current site will be up in 2½ years

Ljuba stated that we need a Site Committee- we had one before

It was discussed and agreed that we first need to hire an Executive Director and that person will begin working on a permanent site for the school and that person will facilitate the site committee.


Heyda-motion The Site/Building Committee will wait until our Executive Director is Hired-Seconded Ljuba- Motion approved unanimous vote




Frankie- wanted to know if we did we do any outreach- historically- we did door to door and went out to the community- we need more effort in getting groups but other communities- Frankie was reminded of his suggestion for an Essential class supporting enrollment.


Heyda-the school is going through a very difficult moment- we should restructure ourselves as a Board We need a Board retreat

It was agreed that a retreat would be a good idea to plan before school ends- Ruben will contact the Mass Charter Association to see about facilitation of a retreat


Ruben identified one item we need to address at the retreat : Board Bi-Laws

Rhonda- stated that there are books that would be helpful such as: Charter Board on Track- A tentative date for a Board retreat was scheduled: Saturday-May 20, 2017


Stacey expressed that she would like to hear more from staff and students.


Ruben- Discussed staff talking to the media about the school concerning the Day for a Woman Event.. Ruben thinks we should have a policy about when staff can speak on behalf of the school. Frankie- asked how can you control a policy to speak on behalf of the school? Can someone give their opinion?


Ruben felt we have a responsibility as a school and expressed that students should have been involved in the planning and education involved in this event.


Heyda- stated that when we speak about social justice we need to speak the same language- She felt we needed a training-

Rhonda- stated that we have trainings during orientation- and had a number of Professional Development Days working on our idea of social justice- and what Paulo Freire meant by social justice.


Stacey- announced that she will be facilitating the Social Justice Committee and would like to see more focused education around these events. Stacey mentioned that Holocaust Remembrance Day was not acknowledge and would like to make a schedule for different events throughout the year, so the school can use these to have planned educational programs for our students. As a social justice committee, she felt this was extremely important.


Heyda- stated that schools react like families- we need to look at the structure of what is going on- if the messages aren’t clear or direct.


Stacey related that parents would like a Board set up with summer programs- jobs and activities-

It was stated that there was a proposal of an essential- for scholarships and programs-also focusing on available certifications-


Meeting adjourned at 8:24













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