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Board of Directors Meeting Minutes: January 15, 2015

  1. Call Meeting to Order
  2. Roll Call and Acknowledge Visitors
    Jake Nelson, Natalya Kormina, Tatiana Snigur, Valentina Eyers, Tanya Stanishevskaya, Oksana cox, Alex Brusilovsky, Tim Luts, Yevgeniy Gittsovich, Gregory Gittsovich, Liza Lindman, Christian Schmidt, Tatyana Kucherenko, Yelena Hardcopf, Gedaly Meerovich, Ben Wallace.
  3. Read Nasha Shkola Vision – What has been done this past month to bring the NS vision closer to reality?
  4. Agenda Items
    1. Preschool program partnership update IQS representative (Karen), Director Nelson, Oksana Cox, and Yelena Hardcopf met to discuss opening a preschool. An in house day care is not currently feasible.
      Day Care/Pre-School options: Partner with Fairy Tale Day Care or New Horizons.
      Yelena: We would need to find a suitable location for the program and have an exposure to Russian language.
      Karen from IQS advised Nasha Shkola to go with an established provider such as new horizons. She will be contacting New Horizons about the potential to partner.
      Gedaly Meerovich: Suggests partnering with New Horizons as the first option.
      Valentina Eyers: What is the cost difference between New Horizons and Fairytale Academy?
      Director Nelson: A partnership would be a possible benefit because Nasha Shkola could offer services such as Russian language instruction, reading corps, etc.
      Gregory Gittsovich: How does a partnership with New Horizon benefit our school? What about Fair Tale Academy.
      Svetlana Kazanecki: New Horizons will offer Nasha Shkola a larger base of potential students.
      Gregory Meerovich: How do we attract more non-Russian speaking children to the school?
      Tatyana Kucherenko: Is it a requirement that we open a pre-school?
      Yelena Hardkopf: Our contract with IQS says that we will open a pre-school or high school in the third year.
      Tatyana Kucherenko: Fairy Tale can produce students who are proficient in English.
    2. High School – Future plans for NS
      Director Nelson: We have a new financial manager from BKDA. Kyle was let go. This was a drastic switch. Kyle was to meet this week but he was fired from BKDA sometime last week. Our new financial manager is named. If we add a high school we would need to increase our middle school teachers to full time from .75 and hire an elective teacher to fulfill the elective credits. Next year our lease aid is increasing by $15,000. Our utilities and costs will likely increase by possibly 2%. In the audit report our lease will 200,000 to 215,000. WE would also need to purchase 9th grade social studies curriculum, math curriculum, and physical science curriculum. In order for us to break even in next year’s budget we need to maintain 160 students starting next year. We currently have 128.
      Natalya Kormina: Will we be able to keep our middle school teachers for .75 for 2015-2016?
      Valentina Eyers: What quantity of 8th graders would be willing to attend Nasha Shkola in 9th grade? We compete with a high achieving school district in Minnetonka. Minnetonka is able to offer many services while a small school has much less to offer.
      Gregory Gittsovich: We should start somewhere, with 9 instead of 25.
      Liza Lindman: Parents may remove students from Nasha in the 8th grade to get them started for 9th grade in a suburban school district.
      Yevgeny Gittsovich: There are not all great schools in the suburbs some are not as excellent and may be a source of students.
      Nelson: We are in the process of looking and whether we should or should not open a high school. We could postpone the opening of a high school but at some point we must open a school.
      Meerovich: We started with 79 students. Public schools have some negative problems such as drug abuse. Our school is small and parents can trust that their children are safe. The mission of our school is to give culture to our students. Expose them to Slavic culture.
      Valentina Eyers: We need to make sure our students are college ready and are we ready to start with only 7.
      Gregory Gittsovich: We must start somewhere.
      Yelena: What concerns me is that in two months we will be planning a budget for 2015-2016. We have no clue until the first day of school how many students will come to our school. We can’t be in this unknown state because it makes planning difficult for the next year. We need to be realistic about our situation.
      Tatyana Kucherenko: What happens if we budget for 160 rather than 140?
      Valentina Eyers: We would like to see a consistency among the staff rather than a revolving door of new teacher year after year.
      Yelena Hardcopf: We need to acknowledge that small schools often have a high turnover rate. Our school may take 5-6 years to find a team that will stick around for the long term. We have a at will agreement with teachers. We can either let the teacher go in a day or the teacher can resign at will.
      Tim Lutz: Is high turnover a factor in deciding on opening a ninth grade.
      Yelena Hardcopf: We do not currently have enough kids to hire middle school teacher’s full time.
      Natalya Kormina: We can ask IQS to delay a pre-k or high school opening.
      Nelson: We can postpone opening a high school indefinitely. We should not say we will not open either because this closes off our possibilities of future growth.
      Valentina Eyers: We would like to see an ESL teacher at Nasha to give our students a head start. Why is this not happening?
      Nelson: We are searching for ESL teachers but we have not received any applications. Other districts are struggling as well to find teachers for ESL according to our special education director.
      Yelena: We have seen an increase in our ESL numbers. The state will be able to fund ESL teachers for 1 full time ESL teacher and .5 ESL teachers.
      Natalya Kormina: Can it be possible to open enrollment for ninth grade to see what interest there is in a ninth grade. If by March there is little interest then we should delay ninth grade.
      Yevgeniy Gittsovich: I believe that if we are not opening a ninth grade we will lose more students.
      Liza Lindman: Parents can be mercurial.
      Natalya Kormina: It is good to have all the ids in one school. It will be difficult for parents with 8th graders leaving next year to keep their other students in school.
      Valentina Eyers: Unfortunately we lost parents because the parents said that they did not feel they were a part of school.
      Natalya Kormina: Parents need to think of ways to work together.
      Yelena: I would like to get us back to this discussion of a high school.
      Tim: How many students did we budget for this year?
      Nelson: We budgeted for 136. If we drop below 120 we will be in the red.
      Meerovich: We need to market our school and attract 30 students.
      Valentina Eyers: We would have to cut benefits or teachers.
      Yelena: Other board members need to express opinions.
      Oksana: I am a conservative in this. I would wait at least a year. It is 32 students. We do not have enough. It is not possible.
      Tanya Stanisheveskaya: We should open a high school. We still need to think of the families of students to whom we promised that every year we would open another grade. If there is no growth then others will leave.
      Yevgeny Gittsovich: We lost students because of the uncertainty of our situation last year.
      Valentina: What are the statistics of students starting at our school last year?
      Oksana: When we opened in 2012-2013 we had 79. In 2013-2014 we had 149. We then started this year with 136.
      Valentina: Many parents left last year because of the departure of many teachers. This is not a healthy environment if many teachers are leaving.
      Tim: We were not confident the first year or second year but we are somewhat confident this year. We have high hopes for this school. People come here for different reasons. If for some reason we do not meet there expectations they pull their students out. Good teachers have left but we believe in this school. I do think about 9th grade and it is a hard decision. We need to decide what we need to do now and stick to it and work for it. Location, commute, exposure to Russian culture.
      Alex: I am in favor of opening a high school because we have promised parents this. If we do not do this students will leave because parents will not tolerate a school without a high school.
      Natalya Kormina: We should attempt to ask for donations to pay for tickets and other school supplies.
      Valentina Eyers: Is this realistic.
      Ben: I am in agreement with Oksana at this point. We need to have the school in a stable situation before we expand. We should do this when we are ready.
      Svetlana Kazanecki: We could lose up to 10-12 students if we do not open a 9th grade.
      Tatyana: I think it would be great to open a ninth grade if we have the means to do this. However, currently it does not look like it will happen. I do not see that we are ready to open for a new school year.
      Tim: Is our new budget projection accurate?
      Nelson: I believe the numbers are accurate as of right now.
      Tim: Priority grants?
      Nelson: We will have a person at the meeting on Thursday to talk about the possibility of priority grants. If we got that grant it would provide funding specifically for reading and math and would help offset some of the budget for next year.
      Nelson: we will not know if we will receive the grant until April.
      Meerovich: Should we wait and see if we get this grant to decide on the creation of a high school. Could we postpone the decision until later?
      Svetlana: We should ask Target or other corporations to sponsor our students in the ninth grade for the 2015-2016 school years.
      Nelson: Keeping seven students in school for ninth grade would require us to raise 128,000.
      Svetlana: 15,000 per students
      Meerovich: Numbers, we have 128 right now. It looks like the school has stabilized itself. We may be able to come close to 154 if we add about 25 kindergarteners. If add some more students we can get to the number of 160.
      Valentina: My concern is that students we do not have gifted programs.
      Yelena: We do need to talk about how are we going to meet the needs to gifted and talented?
      Ben: Schools have created gifted programs to draw in more students.
      Yelena: I would like to wrap it up.
  5. Public Forum & Discussion
  6. Adjourn meeting

Nasha Shkola — Russian for Our School — is an academically rigorous K-8 charter school, providing a highly-structured learning environment for students interested in Russian language and culture.

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Nasha Shkola
6717 85th Avenue North
Brooklyn Park, MN 55445

Phone: 763-496-5550
Fax: 763-424-8520

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