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Polaris Charter Academy

Where Learning Has No Boundaries

Polaris Charter Academy

Where Learning Has No Boundaries

Polaris Charter Academy

Polaris Board Meeting Minutes 08.09.11

Polaris Charter Academy

Board Meeting Minutes

Aug 9, 2011

Board Topic: Back to School Updates and Renewal

School Topic:  Back to School

Board Members:  Darren Snyder (Chair), Mark Larson (Vice), Sarah Walker, Mick Domagala, Uday Khedkar, Melanie Madigan, Marion Meers-Rice, Michelle Navarre (Head of School)

School Leaders: Michelle Navarre (Head of School), Carol Clavadetscher

Teachers in Attendance: None

Guests:  Keecia Broy: potential board member

Darren Snyder called the meeting to order at 6:35pm for all attendees. No one called into the meeting via conference call.

Public Forum                       

Keecia Broy was introduced to all members at the meeting. She shared her interest in joining a charter school board on the west side of Chicago; she was introduced to Polaris through her husband, Andrew Broy. Andrew currently serves as the CEO of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools.


No announcements were made incremental to the agenda.

Stakeholder Engagement                                                             

  • Community Update: Michelle shared the new library at Kedzie and Chicago had opened; she and Roel met with the head librarian and will be working with the children’s librarian to engage Polaris students in programming with the library. Carol shared that there had been 2 shooting incidents in direct proximity of the school the week of August 1st. Both incidents were police involved and happened at night.
  • INCS – District 299 Meeting – 8/15: Darren shared with the board that District 299 will be having a meeting to discuss special education funding and the future of the Office of New Schools on Monday, August 15 at 11am, coinciding with the first day of school. Michelle communicated that Roel would be attending the meeting, as she and Carol would be working on the new lunch program during this time.
  • Passages comments

State of the School                                     

Michelle shared the current enrollment numbers for 2011-2012 were at 331, with openings in 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grade. She shared confidence that numbers would increase once school began, as it is challenging to get transfer paperwork completed during the summer holiday. She communicated the final attendance for 2010-2011 was at 95% and the final free and reduced lunch count at 90%.

Michelle discussed the upcoming renewal process. The renewal application is due to CPS by September 1st, 2011.  The two day site visit is scheduled for December 7th and 8th.  The Board interview will take place at Polaris on the morning of December 7th.  Darren recommended that the board meet prior to the site visit to review questions and ensure all members are equipped to participate in the renewal discussion. The meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, November 29th at 6:30pm at the school.

Michelle shared preliminary ISAT data with the board. Key data points include:

  • Reading scores improved by 20.1 points to 69.1% of students meeting or exceeding! Our 4th and 5th grade students improved by 14 points, year over year… Our 3rd graders, the first class that has been at Polaris since Kindergarten, have 81.6% of students meeting or exceeding.
  • After a stellar year in 2010 (with gains of 21.9 points), our students gained an additional 5.7 points in math. In 2011, 85.9% of our students were at or above grade level. Most impressively, 90% of our 5th graders were at or above!
  • Our composite score improved by 10.9 points to 74.1%. The CPS composite score for all grades was 75.6%, up a few points from last year. The composite score for 3rd through 5th grade, however, was only 67.3%. Our students out scored CPS by 6.8 points!
  • Not only have we made SIGNIFICANT progress in moving students to meets, our % of students exceeding has grown as well.
    • In math, 19.5% of our students exceeded state standards, up from 13.5% in 2010.
    • In reading, 16.9% of students exceeded state standards, up from 11.5% in 2010.
    • Polaris mobility (# of students transferred in/out) increased from 8% to 28% in 2010-2011, consistent with most neighborhood schools. Michelle shared that the office would begin tracking “reason for moving” to help understand the statistic better. Morton, the primary neighborhood school, has had a mobility rate of 60+% for several years.
    • Attendance for 2010-2011 was 95% for the total year; in line with CPS, but 2 to 3 pts above neighborhood schools.

Renewal Preparation       

Michelle shared renewal preparation is underway by the administration. All renewal documents are required to be submitted on September 1st. The board discussed the need to build out, in writing, the strategic goals that have been established by the board. Darren committed to have a first draft to the board by August 18th, with all recommended edits to be shared with Carol by August 21st.

Committee Reports                       

Academic Excellence

Mark shared with the board that the initial results had been collected regarding Michelle’s 360-review.

He will be summarizing the results and sharing with Michelle by the next board meeting. 11 of 18 recipients completed the review; the board discussed the need to have full participation, as well as steps to increase the number of responses.


Uday shared with the board the final approval of the FY2012 budget, which was conducted at the July 26th conference call.  Carol shared that the FY2011 audit would be conducted the week of September 6th. Carol shared that the final net income of the year was $98,000 favorable to budget, driven by fundraising ($56,000) and unplanned expansion funding ($42,000).


Marion shared with the board the proposed fundraising event for FY2012. The fundraiser would be the performance of 5th grade celebration of learning Civil War Monologues, followed by a cocktail reception in February, as a part of Black History month. The event has been spearheaded by Pam Clarke, former board member, and current employee of INCS. The goal is to bring in 150 to 200 guests, with the location and date being finalized. Marion shared the importance of fully engaging board member connections, including sponsorship by board member employers. A preview performance would be held at the October board meeting. Melanie shared that she may be able to connect Polaris with WGN radio to have a preview of the performance done over the radio (Greg Jarrett).

Polaris was selected as one of 14 finalists to be a beneficiary of the 2011 Invest for Kids event. Ben Kovler, IFK founder, was hosted at the school on July 28th. 6-7 beneficiaries will be chosen (2 will be schools). The opportunity is an estimated $150,000 one-time gift. We expect to hear back the week of 8.9.11.

Carol shared 3 board commitment meetings had taken place: Uday, Sarah, and Melanie. Marion and Carol will be working with board members to complete the meetings by the end of September.

Carol shared the fundraising $ in 2010-2011 totaled $220,000, with $73,000 from board members, $131,500 foundation grants, and $15,500 from other individuals.


Sarah shared a brief overview of board recruitment status; Mark provided a brief background of a woman he is recommending for his backfill. Sarah also shared the positive reflection on Polaris in a FOIA article presented in the Chicago Reader, giving Polaris an “A” in its response to requested data regarding teacher salary and budget. The board self-evaluation results were reviewed by Mick. The board agreed to review and digest the results off-line, to discuss in more depth at the next board meeting.


Mick provided a brief update, sharing that Carol has been working with Better Blocks from the Active Transportation Alliance to move forward on making improvements to the traffic/safety issues at drop-off and pick up.

Michelle moved to close the meeting at 8:45pm; Uday 2nd her motion. Darren called the meeting to a close.

  • 8/15 – First Day of Classes
  • 8/15 – INCS/CPS Dist 299 Meeting
  • 9/27 – POLARIS BOARD MEETING – ISAT RESULTS and Academic (HOS review)
  • 10/25 – Polaris Board Annual Meeting & Dinner
  • 10/27 – Governance Committee CC
  • 11/29 – Renewal Prep meeting
  • 12/1 – Governance Committee CC
  • 12/7  – Renewal Process/Interviews




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Polaris Board Meeting Minutes 08.09.11