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Where Learning Has No Boundaries

Polaris Charter Academy

Where Learning Has No Boundaries

Polaris Charter Academy

Where Learning Has No Boundaries

Polaris Charter Academy

Polaris Board Meeting Minutes 10.25.11


Polaris Charter Academy
Board Meeting Minutes
October 25, 2011
Board Topic: Development, Renewal, February Event

Board Members: Darren Snyder (Chair), Mark Larson (Vice), Sarah Walker, Greg Borkowski, Mick Domagala, Uday Khedkar, Melanie Madigan (via conference), Marion Rice, Michelle Navarre, Keecia Broy
School Leaders: Michelle Navarre (Head of School), Carol Clavadetscher, Roel Vivit
Teachers in Attendance: Mona Iehl, Katie Golden, Jen Jacobsen
Guests: Robert Hearne, Kellogg Fellow, Elizabeth Morris & Susan Oliver, Development Consultants, and Pam Clarke

Darren called the meeting to order at 6:35, extending a welcome to the teacher in attendance, to Pam, and to Betsy and Susan. Mona, Katie and Jen introduced themselves to the board. Darren extended a welcome to Keecia to her first board meeting as a member of the board.

The minutes from the September 27th board meeting were reviewed by all members present. Uday moved to approve the minutes; Michelle seconded the motion.

Sarah requested that board members receive their crew assignments; Michelle agreed to distribute immediately.

Gates Compact

Michelle shared with the board the background on the Gates Compact. Chicago Public Schools, in collaboration with Illinois Network of Charter Schools and New Schools for Chicago, are going through the application process for the Gates Compact. The compact is currently being written and has a very short turn around. The 5 main tenets of the compact are as follows:
1. ensure charters receive an equitable share of operational and facilities dollars
2. ensure that charters have access to district buildings and district capital investments
3. coordinate the charter sector’s enrollment process so that it is transparent and
easily accessed by parents
4. create an accountability framework that appropriately measures school
5. enhance collaboration among charter schools and the district

The board discussed the potential positive outcomes for Polaris, specifically increased per pupil funding. INCS has communicated it could be as much as $3,000 per student, whereas other board members have heard it will be lower, in the $1,000 to $1,500 range. Michelle explained to the board the potential challenges of a common enrollment system. Carol shared that she had heard other charter advocates that the enrollment challenges
were significant in other cities.

The final draft of the compact is expected to be complete early the week of November 14th. Polaris will have to
make a determination as to whether or not the school will participate in the compact by Friday, November 18th.
The board will have minimal time to review the document. Darren recommended we schedule a conference call
on Thursday, November 17th to make final determination. Carol will add to the master calendar.

State of the School

Michelle communicated current enrollment is at 333 students; enrollment on September 30th was 336 (equal to budget). The 5th and 6th grades have officially departmentalized as of October 24th. The change was made to provide both students and teachers the ability to take advantage of the expertise of our teachers, while moving to a more traditional middle school model. While it has only been 3 days, Michelle communicated the transition
is going well. Jen Jacobson, the 5th/6th math teacher, agreed with her sentiment.

Development Committee

Marion kicked off the discussion regarding the February event, stressing the importance of each board member getting to Carol the appropriate list of names for their invitation. She stressed the importance of inviting
individuals with the potential for providing meaningful financial support.

Pam and Carol discussed the status of the planning for the event.

Susan Oliver and Betsy Morris presented a proposed Polaris branding strategy, focusing on the uniqueness and benefits of “One Great School.” The board was very positive about the presentation; school leadership has agreed to adopt the branding strategy in its website, development materials, and communications. In addition, Susan presented the FY2011 annual report draft. The board was very excited to have Polaris’ first
annual report! Board members will be providing an address listing, included with invitation listing, for the February event for distribution of the annual report. Carol and Michelle will be drafting a cover letter, including a
request for donations. The annual report will be distributed no later than November 15th.

Charter Renewal

Uday provided a brief overview of the indepth preparation of the finance committee for renewal. Uday asked if we had a specific date/time for the finance interview with the board; Michelle communicated that she had
requested this information from CPS. Michelle reminded the board of the renewal prep meeting on November

Academic Excellence

Mark provided a brief update on the completion of Michelle’s annual review. He expressed the need to ensure that ALL employees respond in the current year, as only 11 of 17 completed the review. Mark shared with the
board that the review with Michelle went very well, as she was very open to the feedback. In addition, he shared that she had thought through opportunities for her development prior to their meeting, along with specific


Uday provided a brief finance overview, sharing that the audit was complete. A meeting with the auditors and the finance committee is scheduled for November. The year-to-date variance to budget is approximately
$13,000 positive. There were no finance issues to discuss further.


Sarah requested that the board take a final vote on the removal of Tracy Kwock and Keith Muhammad from the board. Darren expressed his appreciation to both Tracy and Keith for all of the work they have done for Polaris.
Michelle spoke of Tracy’s love and commitment to the school and Keith’s continued support in community efforts. Mick echoed Michelle’s sentiment.

Sarah moved to remove Tracy from the board. Marion seconded the motion. All 7 board members present confirmed the motion. Mick moved to remove Keith from the board. Uday seconded the motion. All 7 board
members present confirmed the motion. (Note: Melanie was no longer on the call at this time).


Mick shared a high-level overview of the efforts of the security committee. Recent incidents at the school, including 3 break-ins, have heightened the board’s attention to this issue. Keecia expressed her concern for the
teacher safety. Michelle communicated that she and Carol were working with David Hardin (building engineer) and Mick to address the concerns.

Carol communicated that the master calendar had been updated and a draft provided to Sarah. The calendar will be distributed to the board and posted to the Wiki by November. 4th.

Darren made a motion to end the meeting at 8:45pm. Uday seconded his motion. All board members were in agreement.

11/3 – Trimester 1 ends
11/4 – No school – Parent Teacher conferences
11/7-25 Intersession – (no regular school)
12/7 – Renewal Process/Interviews

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Polaris Board Meeting Minutes 10.25.11