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Sept 2010 Board Meeting Minutes

5 Oct 2010

Attending: Kate O’Connell, Heather Thompson, David Rosenberg, Gillien Taft, Kate Taylor, Tracey Kaplan, Eric Wirch, Ben Mayer

Building update

All the wooden floors in the new building have been completed, as well as the first floor kitchen and common room floors.  The flooring on the stairs still needs to be completed, as well as installation of the kitchen.  The final permits (fire, electrical, plumbing, etc) should be done early in the week of October 4.  The final occupancy permit will then follow, probably in mid-October.  We are planning a work weekend painting party for the weekend of 16th-17th October, and we may have the occupancy permit by then.


We are planning to move on Veteran’s Day (November 11), which is a Thursday this year and a school holiday.  Lesley is donating vans for the day.  The board discussed whether the move could be done in one day, and decided that it would be wise to keep Friday open in order to complete the move.  We discussed a number of options for that Friday, including taking a field trip, cancelling school entirely, or getting the kids involved in the move on that day.  Ultimately, the board decided that the best option would be to do something similar to what we did during the work days this winter and spring, where a number of parents each host a few children for a play date at their homes.  This would allow more parents to assist with the move.  Tracey will recruit a parent to organize the child care.  This way, we will have Thursday and Friday free for the move, and the weekend to help organize and set up the new space.  We will definitely need parents to assist on both Thursday and Friday.

In order to make a Veteran’s Day move work, we need to begin packing and organizing ASAP, and continue the packing over the next month.  Tracey will recruit a parent to help organize the packing and moving.  Parents who have availability to help pack during the Agassiz school day are very much needed in order to assist.  We also plan to make the weekend prior to the move (November 6-7) a work weekend for packing.

Budget update

Eric reported that the end of last year, we had around $80-100k in cash.  Of this amount, we have earmarked $60-70k for building improvements.  The renovation of the new building will run around $100k over budget, so we will need to take around $30k out of this year’s budget to pay for it.  It would definitely be helpful to have some tuitions paid in advance in order to ensure that we can continue to pay our operating costs this year while also having money for the building.  There is a small discount available to families who pay in advance.  Any parents who are interested in advance tuition payment (rather than monthly) are requested to contact Eric Wirch.

Financially, our biggest threat this year is ensuring that all tuitions are collected in a timely manner.  We still have approximately $20k owed in tuition from previous years.  Given this situation, Eric suggested amending the parent agreement to bring more accountability for families.  The board agreed to add language stating that we will assess a 1% penalty when tuition is more than 30 days overdue.  If tuition is more than 2 months overdue, the family will have to meet with the Executive Committee to discuss an adjusted payment plan. There was some discussion as to whether we should make this policy language stronger by stating what enforcement mechanisms are in place, but the board ultimately decided that Eric’s suggested language provided adequate accountability while still preserving our community’s values.

We should have adequate money to complete the renovations, but will probably have no surplus this year to go toward the yard or the capital campaign.

Fundraising goals and updates

The first capital campaign committee meeting will be held next week.  The committee needs to earn $66k in next six months (by end of March) in order to cover the bridge loan, which is due on April 1.  This is how much was raised over 12 months last year.  The committee has significant leadership continuity this year, so they should be able to hit the ground running. However, the major concern is that we may have already tapped out much of the major gift potential within the Agassiz community last year.

The committee plans most of the same events as last year – a fundraising race, a tile campaign, the tree sale, and approach to potential major donors.  Given the need for funds this year, the board recommends that the committee should organize another major event, which will hopefully raise $20-30k.  This would allow us to devote some of our operational surplus to the yard.  This new event will most likely be an auction.  Legally any money raised now must go to the bridge loan; however, since this event would allow us to put our budgetary surplus toward the yard, we may do a yard-focused event.


The yard at the new building is currently unusable because it must be remediated for lead.  This means that it must be graded, and new topsoil put down.  We also need to install a fence at least 48 inches high.  The total cost of the yard is estimated at $30k.  We would very much like to have the yard be usable before the ground freezes this winter.  At the very latest, we need to have it done by next spring, which is when the city of Somerville will begin renovating the two playgrounds that are near the new building.

The board discussed options for raising money for the yard, given the fact that we are not permitted to incur further indebtedness without the approval of NFF until the bridge loan is paid off.  The board determined that our first step should be to ask NFF for permission to seek loans from parents.  Should that be unsuccessful, our second option would be to ask parents to prepay next year’s tuition, so we can use the surplus from the 2011-2012 school year in order to pay for the yard.

We also need to get an accurate quote on the cost of completing the yard.  Ben will discuss this with some landscape architects who are familiar with local regulations governing playgrounds.  We also need to get the teachers involved in the design of the new yard.

Other items

  • The concert/CD release party is moving ahead for Oct 30th.  This will be a double CD, one of which is child-oriented, one of more general interest.  Costumes are suggested at the concert for both adults and children.  Given the timing of the event, the board suggested that the Halloween potluck be integrated into the concert this year, rather than holding two separate events.
  • We will not do the apple picking trip this year.
  • Our fall open house in the new building was scheduled for November 17.  Given the proximity of this date to the move, the board advised that the fall open house be canceled, and we only do one open house this year instead of two (most other local preschools only hold one).  The open house will be scheduled for January.
  • All is going well in the groups, and children and teachers are settling into the new school year.

Next meeting

The next board meeting will be held on October 21 at 7:30 pm.  All parents are reminded that they are welcome to attend board meetings.