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Board meeting minutes, Jan 27, 2010

4 Mar 2010

Minutes Prepared by Kristin Blum


Board Staff Others
Michael Baran Tracey Kaplan Lynn Weissman
Josh Safde Ann Holloway Joel Bennet
Eric Evich Katie Dalo Seth
Kristin Blum Richard Barton Heather
Kathryn Rosenberg Lisa Mayer
Everin Susie Romanyshyn
Kathy (gabe’s mom)

Directors Report

Enrollment – Tracey reported received a lot of applications for next year, including from some neighbors of the new building. There have been many inquiries about the open house on February 6.

Licensing – The state licensor came out visited the new building a while back. She thought there was plenty of space for increasing the number of kids if needed. For the initial move we will be keeping the same # and configuration. The licensor is excited and supportive of our move. Tracey will be taking her back again and will get familiar with the full process to license the new building.

Backup/financing info – Tracey is still working on recreating the financial data that were lost in the break-in.  She may want help down the road but is working on it herself at the moment. Kathryn reported that she knows QuickBooks and can help. Questions were raised about internal control processes (division of responsibilities for fraud and accountability purposes), and there was a discussion of the increased importance of financial management and oversight now that the school has taken on loans and increased its financial risks. In the meantime, Tracey is doing manual back ups of the data, and will sign up for Quick Books back ups or another on line back up system once the data is complete. Eric indicated he can set up the off site back up for Tracey.

This would include more regular back ups of the financial and school data (which can be done on line but should also be backed up and perhaps retained by a parent job). Tracey raised concern about increasing responsibilities of parents. Josh recommended that more jobs have written job descriptions so its clear what people should be doing.

The board decided to create a new committee to review and work on creating formal processes and policies and board structure to create a longer term commitment for the Treasurer and other Executive Committee members.   Kathryn, Michael, Eric and Kristin volunteered but this will be opened up to the community as well.  Tasks will include looking at board structure and continuity, review of financial policies and procedures, and making recommendations to the board on necessary changes.

Tracy is looking over all of the current job assignments and what people are doing because of the urgency of the work on the new building, to get more people working on that.  A “New Building Committee” has been established which includes Joel, Josh, Jeff Levine, Ben Mayer, Dana Colley, Stephanie Hirsch (working on time tracking, accountability and neighborhood relations) and Shona who as current Community Developer will help arrange child care.

Staff Reports

OG – Katie reported that everything is “functioning”  and that the kids are wonderful. Her current group is a group of funny, engaged kids, asking questions, excited about ice skating field trip, getting ready for graduation, and are all excited about Katie’s birthday the following week.

YG – Ann reported that everything is fabulous. The kids are developing goo d friendships, and playing, and singing.  Evaluations are underway.

X-Day – Ann told the board about the Winter Olympics underway in extended day. The kids all get prizes for trying the various event, and they are enjoying themselves.

Group Reports

YG Coordinator couldn’t make the meeting, so Ann reported that there will be a group meeting in February.  Jackie’s birthday is Valentine’s Day.

MG – MG is having a meeting soon. They are going to discuss ways to amuse the kids during break. Things are super in the MG

Treasurer’s Report

The bridge loan ($131,000) from Nonprofit Finance Fund is due 4/2011 and will be repaid from fundraising.  The school has raised a portion of this so far. The fundraising proceeds should be going directly to NFF& are..

No budget or financial information was presented.

Capital Campaign

Heather reported that the Capital Campaign committee’s goal is to have raised the money needed to repay the loan by October, by the end of their term. They think this achievable. The general fundraising the school has done the past has been successful. Over the past  three years the school has brought in $150,000. The December appeal this year was also successful, raising $41,500. She handed out an update and the ways they plan to raise the remaining amounts and over what time frame.

The committee will be tracking how they are doing and will come back and report on progress and adjust if necessary.

They are currently making an effort  to find kids had gone to Agassiz and their families. They are working on getting names, and creating facebook group. Then they will make a fundraising effort for these people who haven’t been tapped before.

Kathryn has heard from some alum families that they have been asked a lot, they have given a lot and they haven’t seen anything happen (we haven’t moved). She is worried about donor fatigue.

The group discussed other fundraising opportunities:

–        Josh offered to take donors through the space for tours.

–        Patrick is working on applying for grants. Kristin offered to pass along the name of a friend who is a fundraiser for the Elizabeth Peabody House who may be able to give some tips.

–        100 Red Balloons to be sold closer to the move for a parade to the new building. There should be higher prices for business sponsors (some possible bigger sponsors are the school’s bank Cambridge Trust and lenders MassDevelopment and Winter Hill Bank.

–        Tile campaign and possibilities for this.

–        Targeting universities which may make small grants

Overall, about $65,000 has been raised, including $24,000 the tile campaign and $41,500 from the December appeal (which included two large donations totaling $35,000). Josh was encouraged by the progress. Kristin recommended that an e-mail gets posted to Agassiz-General with an update on the annual appeal and overall capital campaign so that the whole school gets updated on the progress.


Lisa reported that there have been just under 2,000 visits to the website since October, with over 900 unique visitors. About 16 people visit per day, half new, half returning.  Average time spent is 2.5 minutes, which Lisa thought was good. Popular places to visit are the pages on tuition, program options, and parent directory.  Forty percent of the traffic is driven directly by our URL, 41% from search engines and 16% from links referring to our site, such as Live Journal and community mom’s blogs.

Joel  asked that a list of board members, board minutes and parent job assignments get posted on the website. Lisa plans to also post teacher bios and more photos.  Parent help substitutes and contact info will also be posted. Many parents were interested in automatic reminders for parent help and snack, but so far this has not been figured out.

Lisa mentioned that there needs to be a discussion of continuity of web administration after Harry leaves the school.

There was also a discussion about the teachers “Chalkboard” postings. Those who are getting them reported that they like them. But Lisa reported that there are only 37 subscribers and she’s not sure its worth it if there aren’t more.  Some people who are subscribed thought they might not be getting the chalkboard postings. Lisa is going to look into this. People who are subscribed but aren’t getting postings should notify her.

Ongoing issues at the old Agassiz

Staffing:  Paul is leaving at the end of June. He is getting married and moving to the Cape.  Katie is leaving at the end of summer. Tracey indicated that there are two subs who have expressed interest in Paul’s position.  For Katie’s position, she has been talking to a candidate familiar to some Agassiz families who may be interested in returning. Those who knew her spoke highly of her. Josh recommended putting together a hiring committee.  Michael Baran, Katie, and Ann volunteered. Eric volunteered his wife Jane.  Joel recommended that this committee also look talk to current teachers about whether they are returning and conduct evaluations. Tracey said that is her job and that she meets with the teachers regularly.

Lease/Occupancy of Church

Tracey indicated that the current lease has been extended verbally but she hasn’t seen it on paper yet. She reported that our lawyer Ed got a call from Lesley asking that we help pay the heat over the winter months because the bills have been high ($1,400 per month). Tracey told Ed that we don’t know what monies we have available right now and she needs time to figure it out and talk to the board.  Mary Lou Batt is coming to see her on Friday. Tracey then went over the history with Lesley, and past discussions for the newer families.   The board’s decision was to hold off on payment until the financial impact can be analyzed (and we need the financial data to do that)

Plan and Schedule to move from church to new building

Construction update:  Josh reported that a condition in the field has held up the project for more than a month, related to fire rating the new stair, and unknown conditions of the old field stone foundation.  As a result the stair can’t be built as the architect and engineer anticipated. There are budget implications (though not quantified at the meeting) for the solution, so its taken a while to find a less costly solution.  Once the engineer’s plan is approved, then the steel pieces for the stair will be ordered. Also from there, the builder will be able to give a detailed construction schedule for the duration of the job.  Josh reported that Ed (the contractor) thinks that construction can be complete in June sufficient for a temporary certificate of occupancy, which would allow for an August move date. Joel indicated that he’s not comfortable with the schedule. Kristin indicated that it was worth having a contingency plan should the move not be able to occur before school begins in the fall, given the pace so far and the unpredictable nature of construction.

Josh reported that the construction budget is tight (though no budgets were handed out at the meeting). The drawings show the minimum scope to allow us to operate as a school in the new building. And there are places we can scale back if needed.

A decision was made by the board to table the discussion around the move schedule until a full schedule was available from the contractor.

Jeff Levine is working on a survey of parents about skills, interests, and availability to work in the new building. This will go out after the schedule is available.  The expectation is that everyone needs to pitch in and have some role (construction, child care, packing, etc.) Joel envisions large workdays and also having opportunities for those interested to come and work other times. Seth indicated there needs to be a more social process to get people connected to the school, create a human connection.

There also needs to be a plan for transition of the construction planning and coordination, as Josh and Joel’s kids are leaving. There needs to be a way to pass these important roles on. Tracey will be identifying leaders to fill this role.

Packing and Moving

A separate committee will be made to cover packing and moving.

The board settled on three committees, and that everyone should have a role on a committee:  New building construction, packing and moving, fundraising.  These will be announced at the General Meeting the following week and everyone will have an opportunity to choose a committee.

Other business

Michael raised the question of February vacation camp with parent volunteers. Tracey thought it would be a liability concern without staff present.

Action items

  • Tracey to learn more about licensing the new building and will begin the process soon.
  • Convening of new committee on financial policies and board continuity (Kathryn, Eric, Michael, Kristin)
  • Set up off site back up of full school data (Eric)
  • Agassiz-general e-mail with capital campaign update (Tracey or Cap Camp Committee)
  • Web additions: board list, board minutes, job assignments, etc.
  • Plan for continuity of website management
  • Trouble shooting Chalkboard problem (some subscribers may not be getting) and decision on whether to keep the chalkboard if there aren’t more subscribers
  • Convening of hiring committee/posting of available jobs
  • Decision regarding if/how much to pay Lesley for heat.
  • Survey of parents (Jeff ) ?? are we still doing this?
  • Transition plan for construction/new building coordination/leadership.