Board of Trustees Meeting
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Our World Neighborhood Education Corporation
36-12 35th Avenue, Astoria, NY 11106
The Trustees present were:
Jeanette Betancourt, President
Maura Fitzgerald, Secretary
Also present were:
Brian Ferguson, Chief Executive Officer
Mark Crusante, Development Director
Karinne Montaque, Business Manager
Lucille Ranchor, Admissions Coordinator
Tabitha Daye, Elementary School Secretary
Lillian Vega Morales, PTO Co-Chair
Jeanette Betancourt, President of OWNCS Board of Trustees, chaired the meeting.
Jeanette Betancourt and Brian Ferguson
Ms. Betancourt and Mr. Ferguson reported that the most recent meeting of the Education Committee focused on a close review of the NYC Quality Report and the CSI Accountability Report of student outcomes. While the reports are generally positive, we are on track with requirements, and most indicators are very strong, they are concerned with a pattern that we’ve seen before, with lagging math scores for our 4th grade students which were lower than the district’s scores for two years running. Adjustments were previously made to the curriculum and the school saw improvements at the time, but they have not been sustained. Therefore, further work will need to be done to help the students make the jump that is necessary from the initial 3rd grade test to the tougher 4th grade test that focuses heavily on how math problems are solved, and that require more critical thinking.
These reports also show lower scores for 8th graders, because they do not reflect our cohort of 8th grade students who only take the Math regents. However, we understand that these are public documents and people outside our community are unlikely to know that information. We expect this issue to be solved this year because all 8th graders will take the state math test.
Finance & Administration Committee
Ms. Montaque reported on the Committee meeting held on March 21 during which she gave updates on progress setting up the books, records and accounts for OWN2 and reconciling them with the advances made by OWN1. She informed the Board that OWN2 expects to pull down approximately $600K of the CSB grant this fiscal year. She noted that the 3rd Quarter financial statements should be ready for both entities shortly and that this will, in turn, inform the budget process for the coming year. The Business Office, Admissions Office and the CEO are all hopeful that OWN2 will have full enrollment when it opens in the fall. They are doing active community outreach and geo-code advertising on Facebook.
Ms. Montaque went on to report that she and Mr. Ferguson have decided to conduct an RFP for audit services, and she has been researching auditors who have experience with Education Corporations or other forms of larger charter networks. She noted that she is finding the process itself quite educational, and is enjoying learning from the questions being asked by potential audit firms.
Rich Bogle and Brian Ferguson with
Mr. Bogle reported that our Middle School landlord thought the results of our market appraisal were too low, so they have decided to order their own appraisal, and we are currently waiting on a counter offer. We also need to hear back from them about the feasibility assessment for an expansion of the building.
Mr. Ferguson reported that the construction for OWN2 is still on track, and that a Letter of Intent for OWN3 has been signed. The Administration will set up meetings with officials in the OWN2 community to seek designation of the road directly outside the school as an official School Zone, and is taking steps to engage a school nurse.
Mr. Ferguson told the Board about the onboarding program for the new principal who has been hired to lead OWN2, Rod Wilkins, designed to thoroughly introduce him to the culture and curriculum of OWN, as well as his administrative responsibilities. In the meantime, Mr. Wilkins is already involved with interviewing teachers for the new school.
A few teachers have expressed interest in transferring to the new school either to shorten their commute, or to seek out possibilities for promotion. Mr. Ferguson will work to put specific criteria in place, and has assured Mr. Wilkins that he will be allowed to select his own staff, so no transfers will be automatic.
Mr. Ferguson’s team has also begun outreach to the LIC Partnership (which we have joined) and the Court Square Civic Association regarding OWN3, and they are scheduling public hearings at two branches of the Queens Public Library.
Ms. Vega Morales reported that the Kaiju Big Battle event was a lot of fun; tickets sold out and $1000 was raised for the school. Free Arts Saturdays are well under way with great demand and great turn out – so much so that they would love to expand the program. In the meantime the Read-a-Thon just ended, and they have raised $4,500 so far with more pledges pending. Not only that, the activity had the biggest participation ever this year with 140 kids vying to win extra recess for the winning classroom!
In the coming months the PTO will plan free breakfasts on exam days, Spirit Week, meals for the teachers during Parent/Teacher conferences a Book Fair, and perhaps an end-of-year party inspired by the spontaneous dancing at the end of the Auction last fall.
Respectfully submitted by:
Maura Fitzgerald, Secretary, OWNCS Board of Trustees