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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 4.17.12

Polaris Charter Academy

Board Meeting Minutes

April 17th, 2012

Board Topic: Finance 101, Renewal Overview, Board Recruitment

Meeting – 6:30   Dinner will be available at 6pm

Board Members:  Sarah Walker, Mick Domagala, Uday Khedkar,  Michelle Navarre, Susan Ansai, Keecia Broy

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

Teachers in Attendance: Mona Iehl, Nora Ryan

Guests:  Dr. Kameron Matthews and Helen Wolfe, potential board members

Uday called the meeting to order at 6:35pm and invited all attendees to introduce themselves. Dr. Kameron Matthews and Helen Wolfe introduced themselves and were welcomed by the board and staff.

Uday requested any updates or changes to the minutes from the February 9th, 2012 board conference call.  The initial board attendance was not sufficient to vote on approval of the minutes; Susan Ansai arrived at 6:45pm.

Uday welcomed Susan to the meeting, with the board and staff congratulating her on becoming the newest member of Polaris board of directors. Michelle commented that Susan is a perfect addition to the board, as she currently works for CPS and has a strong knowledge of data and curriculum.

Stakeholder Engagement 

Carol shared information about the INCS Lobby Day, which was being held in Springfield on April 22nd. Polaris did not attend, due to the board meeting and the timing of trimester break. The key elements presented at Lobby Day by INCS were narrowing the range of acceptable funding from 75% to 95% and the state authorization of charter schools.

Michelle spoke briefly about the potential impact of pension legislation eliminating all pension benefits for charter school teachers. No specific recommendations were made at a local level.

Carol shared the upcoming District 299 meeting was being held on Tuesday, April 24th. Jean Claude Brizzard is scheduled to speak, in addition to FY12 budget information being shared. Michelle, Darren, and Uday are scheduled to meet with Oliver Sicat and Carly Bolger from the Portfolio office regarding Polaris-specific budget issues on Wednesday, April 25th. Carol has provided a deck for the team to use for the meeting, presenting the case for high school funding for Polaris’ middle school. 

State of the School              

Michelle provided a brief State of the School, with enrollment at 322 students, attendance at 95%, and free/reduced lunch count of 94%. She also shared that Katie Golden was a Golden Apple finalist; the observation at the school would be held on Wednesday, April 18th.

Michelle requested to add an agenda topic relating to the potential expulsion of a student. She communicated that she would be working with the governance committee to review the guidelines set forth in the board handbook. She has also reached out to other schools to learn about other schools’ experiences relating to expulsion. Any further action will be communicated prior to the May 22nd board meeting. 

Renewal Update

Uday shared with the board members the positive feedback received from the renewal process, with Polaris receiving a full 5-year renewal with no conditions; Polaris was the ONLY school out of 46 charters being renewed to receive a full renewal with no conditions. Michelle shared that Darren wanted to schedule a celebration. Sarah offered to administer a “” request to schedule a date. Mona offered to speak to a contact at Drum & Monkey as a potential location for the event.

Board Goals and Priorities

Darren had requested that a date be set for 1 of 2 strategic retreats to be held before the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year. The group agreed that a weekend, most likely Sunday, would be the date most likely to work. Sarah agreed to administer another “” request to schedule a date.

Committee Reports                                                                                              

Academic Excellence              

As Mark was not in attendance, Susan Ansai shared information on the new common core standards testing to be administered in 2012-2013. Michelle asked if she was aware of who would fund the administration of the new testing. Susan was unsure but offered to ask within CPS.


Carol shared an overview of the Finance 101 data that had been presented to teachers earlier in the day on April 22nd. Leadership had reviewed the funding challenges with teachers to ensure all faculty was aware of the impacts funding has had on growing the administrative staff of the school.

Carol shared the Finance Committee update, highlighting the year-to-date budget was approximately $100,000 unfavorable (cash basis) to the FY2012 plan year to date, due to timing of Title I and Special Education payments, as well as timing of fundraising. She shared that the total year projection was to be equal to budget. Leadership team has identified $47,000 of discretionary spending in the balance of year that may be cut to improve cash position for FY13.


Carol shared that the Chasing Freedom event netted $45,000! Total fundraising to date, as of March 31st, is $133,000 (includes $50,000 Crown Grant). The Field Foundation has visited Polaris and appears to be excited about a grant proposal of $15,000 for the Explore program. The decision will be made at their May 8th board meeting.

Carol shared a projected total fundraising of $171,000, approximately $30,000 short of the goal. SGSA increase of $26,000 will offset a majority of the shortfall.


Sarah again welcomed Susan to the board, while also welcoming Kameron and Helen to the board meeting. She shared that Melanie Madigan had made a decision to step down from the board, due to other commitments. Melanie stressed that she would still be a strong supporter of Polaris and was looking for a replacement for her position on the board.

Sarah shared with the board the updated skill circle and board application. She communicated that a self-audit would be conducted in May or June by the board.

Mick shared an overview of the board pipeline. Carol communicated that Elaine Zinngrabe should be removed from the list.

There was no security update.

New Business and Voting

With Susan present, a quorum was met for approving the minutes from the February 9th meeting. Uday moved to approve the minutes; Mick seconded the motion. All board members voted to approve the minutes.

The calendar was reviewed, confirming a board meeting on May 22nd, 2012 for the initial budget review. Tuesday, June 26th was agreed upon as a conference call for final budget review.

Mick moved to end the meeting at 7:35pm. Uday seconded the motion. All board members voted to end the meeting.

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Polaris Board Meeting Minutes 4.17.12