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March 2014 Board Meeting Minutes

Board Meeting
5:45-8:15 PM


(The February Board Meeting was cancelled due to snow and other board member obligations for Le Monde.)
Present: Shouka Rezvani, Jarod Hobbs, Dory Hobbs, Karyn Warner, Nicole Aas-Rouxparis, Robyn Pfeifer, Jane Fabulet-Roberts

Staff Present: Craig Nelson, Erin Szabo, Genevieve Maull

Parents Present : Stephanie Lavers, Barbara Preyale, Todd Cotten, Jennifer Donovan

  1.  Adoption of January Minutes.  Shouka moved, Dory seconded, all board members in favor of adopting
  2. School Update (Craig Nelson)Conferences – parent teacher conferences were completed last week and seemed to go well.Enrollment – applications continue to come in, and we have in excess of 116 for Kindergarten. Two new students are newly-registered in our Grade 1 openings.Purchases – some parents at the school have made financial commitments for computers. So far we have commitments for 21 chromebooks, the goal is 26. The board expresses their thanks to the donors and parent (Constance Jones) spearheading this. Craig ordered some English Singapore Math materials.

    Planning – Craig is conversing with a colleague about obtaining some International Baccalaureate (IB) information and sample units that staff will have access to.

    Visiting Artists–The next few weeks we will have visiting artists using Run for the Arts money for student art projects, which will be show-cased at International Day.  There will be flute, mask and map activities

  3. Address to the board from parents in attendance.A parent thanks the school for upfront communication on recent resignations. He expresses concern about staff and teacher retention. A group of concerned parents met privately a few weeks ago to discuss why we have recently lost staff.  Without approaching the board or head of school, this parent group went and spoke to (some or all) of the teachers.  The parent reports that that the teachers were generally nonresponsive, likely because they were trying to retain their professionalism with parents. That parent group then agreed that concerns should go to the board. This parent encouraged board member dialogue with teachers.Another parent wants to know that teachers have the support they need and that there is a resource for the teachers who have students with behavioral issues.Another parent expressed dismay regarding Parent Association (PA) google group emails. She feels a parent wrote a disrespectful email.

    Shouka responded to the parents at the meeting and remarked that the board is aware of some of the concerns of the parent community and appreciates the direct communication. The board is walking the balance of keeping communication open with the parent group and not violating boundaries of employment relationships with staff.  Transitions and change, though sometimes difficult, are natural in a start-up, where things can (and must) evolve over time.  Shouka clarified that we have asked teachers to go to their head of school, who has extensive experience with classroom management, with questions and concerns now that Samara has resigned, and that the head of school will evaluate needs and provide recommendations regarding how staffing in that regard should happen going forward.

    Shouka clarified that she no longer is a member of the PA email group and that the board does not control that email group.  Shouka was (appropriately) asked not to communicate official positions on the PA email group by the PA Chairs in hopes that parents would go to the head of school or board directly with questions, so she decided it would provide a clearer communication boundary not to be present in the PA email group.

    Jarod noted that we work to provide the staff with pay and benefits comparable to better-funded public schools.

  4. Outside Class Events (20 min)a. Field Trip reviewGood reports were received for the school field trips. The kids had a wonderful time on both days. We can improve on snack time by via better planning on the timing and location.b. International Day

    International Day planning is in progress and we have the space reserved (Fuller Hall). A sign up genius is in place, volunteers are signing up, and our insurance is allowing us to serve any food we wish this year. We will have performers in the gym. Shannon Mills is spearheading this and doing an amazing job of organizing.

  5. Iron Chef/Fundraising UpdateThis is in the process of being arranged, it will be at Tonkon on May 3rd,[date was later updated to May 10] and we will rent equipment. Shouka is working on organizing the competitors and the event generally, and Darci and Brittany are organizing donations for a silent auction and volunteers.  Tickets may be $100 this year, as last year we were told we could have charged more. Tonkon is sponsoring again, so the goal will be for 100% of the ticket price to go to Le Monde
  6. Specials DiscussionPer Craig, arts tax funds can only be used on fully licensed teachers and we can probably roll the money over for one year. Craig will email current figures on what money we have left over after this week’s arts expenditures
  7. Facility DiscussionShouka met with the landlord to discuss lease extensions.  Although we anticipate that we will be granted a lease extension, that has not yet been confirmed, and, regardless, we are aware of the limitations of our current shared space.  Shouka met with our parent volunteer realtor and discussed requirements so that we have a professional continuing to search for feasible alternatives. We anticipate that given budgetary constraints it will be Le Monde’s best interests to continue in the current location for many years to come, and we anticipate that the landlord will welcome us staying.
  8. Financial Processes Discussiona. Le Monde is transitioning processes to staff from an independent contractor in instances where it makes more sense, while maintaining appropriate checks and balances. The offsite independent contractor bookkeeper with whom we were working has agreed to pass along institutional knowledge and assist us with moving forward successfully. We anticipate staying with 2013 quickbooks and not going to an online format.b. Le Monde’s insurance review was just completed, and we have an excellent package, we are compliant with PPS and landlord requests for coverage. We have increased coverage as appropriate for student population, school equipment and materials. Our insurance covers our large volunteer base as well, and we must log our volunteers for events to ensure that we have them under our umbrella.c. The audit process will take place in August.
  9. Academic Vision Committeea. Curriculum purchase plan for next year – Craig will meet with teachers to plan curriculum material purchases and provide the board with a desired curriculum purchase list including associated costs.   The board will then approve items for Craig to place the order.  Nicole noted that FLA orders, especially those coming from France, take a long time to order and ship, and therefore this process should be conducted soon.b. Science Consultant – Shouka knows of a professional consultant who was the science teacher at Catlin Gabel for many years. He creates programs for charter schools and has reasonable rates and an excellent reputation among his former colleagues. We should consider hiring a science consultant if we can meet fundraising goals.c. Normandale visit – Normandale is a very successful immersion school in Minnesota the policies of whom we have been examining.  Board members Dory and Robyn have agreed to visit Normandale to conduct observations.  The board will ask the head of school and teachers to compile a list of questions to be asked.  The rest of the board thanked Dory and Robyn for their personal and financial contributions in making this visit possible.
  10. Executive Session—Employment matters were discussed.