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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 Minutes 12.04.12

Polaris Charter Academy

Board Meeting Minutes

December 4, 2012

Board Topic: February Event and Board Development


191 North Wacker Drive

Suite 800

Meeting – 6:00   Dinner will be available at 5:30pm

Dial In Number –  (610) 214 0000

Access Code          316557#

Board Members:  Darren Snyder (Chair), Greg Borkowski, Uday Khedkar, Travis Swoope, Michelle Navarre, Dr. Kameron Matthews, and Keecia Broy and Helen Wolfe (via conference)

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

Teachers in Attendance: None

Guests: Kapria Robinson, New Leaders resident

Darren called the meeting to order at 6:00pm, welcoming everyone to Prairie Capital. Michelle introduced Kapria Robinson to the board, the new New Leaders resident. She shared that New Leaders was very excited to have the opportunity to bring Kapria to Polaris.

 The first order of business was to approve the minutes from the October 31st board meeting. Uday moved to approve the minutes; Michelle seconded the motion. The board minutes were approved by all members present and on conference call.                               

State of the School  

Michelle shared that the State of the School had not changed significantly since the October board meeting, particularly given Polaris was on trimester break in November. She did share that enrollment numbers had dropped to approximately 375 (from 391), with most students leaving the city and/or state. Darren requested that the “why students leave” report be updated.

Roel shared with the board a new structure within Polaris relating to Teacher Leadership Teams. Leadership Teams, representing the voices of grade level teams, will work on goals in their focus area and present key information to the rest of the staff. They will also serve as a structure for us to continue our efforts to maintain shared decision-making in line with the mission and vision of the school. The teams were implemented prior to trimester break; feedback from teachers has been positive overall.

Michelle shared with the board additional growth/reach of Polaris leadership. Polaris has been invited by Expeditionary Learning to be a “Host” site, the first step in becoming a demonstration school. Polaris will host individuals interested in opening EL schools, serving as a “strong example” of an EL site. In addition, 2 teachers have been invited to present at the Expeditionary Learning National Conference. Finally, on an international note, Michelle and Roel have been invited to Poland by a group of educators who visited Polaris in the spring of 2012 to share Expeditionary Learning and best practices. They will be traveling in mid-March, sponsored by Bowling Green University.

Committee Reports                                                                         


Uday shared feedback from the ORBA post-audit meeting, which was attended by Uday, Joel Pomerenk (committee member) and the ORBA audit team. Uday shared that ORBA commented “Polaris is one of our most efficient, cleanest, and timeliest audits.

Carol provided the finance update, sharing the following:

  • CPS has not yet provided official direction regarding the Escrow account required in renewal; Carol has been in direct communication with Sagar Gokhale, CPS, to ensure we are able to promptly comply once direction is given.
  • Year to date spending is approx. $87,000 favorable to plan, driven primarily by decision to opt out of CPS facility fee and timing.  Revenue to date is $87,000 unfavorable, driven by minimal donations ($3,800 to date), and timing of SGSA/Title I/Special Ed reimbursement ($73,000). Shortfalls offset by enrollment higher than budget (391 vs. 384). BOY forecast is $85,000 favorable to budget.
  • November 30th cash balance = $763,186 New requirement by CPS restricts $75,000 in escrow. Available cash = $688,186
  • CPS lease for 2012-2017 has been signed and executed. Opt out of CPS facilities is effective on November 1st.

o          David Hardin will be working for Polaris on a part-time basis

o          We are maintaining We Clean for building maintenance/cleaning

o          All other services are in the process of being transferred to Polaris for direct billing


Jamie provided a development update, focusing primarily on the February 21st fundraising event. She shared the following:

  • 2 grant proposals submitted in November. Polaris was invited to reapply for funding from the Crown Family Philanthropies.
  • Jamie has held 30 meetings since September, 18 with prospective funders.
  • Board members are accountable for the following:
    • Invite list for event, including “Top 25”  for personalized invitations.
    • Schedule and execute individual meeting introduction meeting with Jamie (Darren, Mick and Greg have fulfilled)
    • Board commitment to Jamie by December 21st.
    • February 21stevent – Garfield Park Conservatory
      • Sponsorship opportunities presented.
      • Creation of a “Host Committee”
      • Ticket price $125/guest
      • Save the Date will be distributed prior to the holiday break.

Governance   – No Update

Academic Excellence – No Update

New business

Darren reminded the board of the January 13th board retreat. Greg offered the use of McDonald’s for the space. Michelle requested a timeframe of 9am to 4pm. All board members are expected to attend. Darren agreed to reach out to John Madigan, to invite him to the meeting as well.

The focus of the retreat will be the foundation of the strategic plan for the next 5 years.

Darren requested a one-paged outlining “What makes Polaris different?” from an administrative perspective, highlighting outreach such as Michelle’s participation in American Achieves, Roel’s participation in New Leaders, the Expeditionary Learning and Poland invitations, etc. Carol agreed to create something for review at the retreat.           

Important Upcoming Dates

January 13th – Board Retreat from 9am to 4pm at McDonald’s (Oak Brook)


Tuesday, January 29th

Tuesday, February 26th

Tuesday, April 29th

Tuesday, May 29th

Tuesday, June 25th (Conference Call)

Michelle moved to close the meeting at 7:45pm. Keecia seconded the motion.

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Polaris Board Minutes 12.04.12