Board Meeting Minutes Archive » Annual Board Retreat – January 18, 2014

Annual Board Retreat – January 18, 2014

ABS Annual Board Retreat

January 18, 2014

Board Members: Joan Marie Belnap, Chad Cleveland, Eric Prior, Brooks Jones, Amy Lanning, Leigh Cameron-Atkins, Robin Hollis, Debbie Linville, Heather Smith, Charles Cleveland, Mary Benton, Hal Johnson, Bill Wright, Gayle Anderson

Guests: Jessica Hutchison, Megan Sizemore, Paige Raper, Danielle Tarmey, Mary Siebert, Shannon Wright, Liz Green

The retreat began at 8:45am with introductions of those in attendance. Joan Marie began the retreat by reading the ABS purpose. Everyone wrote and shared their own  6-word personal purpose for being at ABS.


Charles began by reviewing the strategic plan and our progress at achieving the goals on the strategic plan. First he reviewed the elements of our plan: 1. Purpose (idealistic, last forever), 2. Vision (what you are going to accomplish over 3-5 year period, practical); 3. Strategy (how are we going to accomplish vision in this moment); 4.Targets (objectives, goals).

Purpose & Vision: Everyone shared words/phrases that jumped out and were important to them from the Purpose and Vision statements. Purpose: Community, Choice, Shared responsibility, Parents, Student Achievement, Innovative, Arts. Vision:varied ways of knowing, community, personalized instruction. Charles posed the question, “How can we share what it is all about in 3-4 sentences?” Everyone wrote their own “elevator speech” and shared them with one another.

Strategies: Charles identified areas of strategic priority that we need to work on.1. Financial Security; 2. Exemplary Student Achievement; 3. Quality Building and Grounds; 4. Unique and Effective Curriculum and Technology; 5. Organizational Efficiency; 6. Teacher and Staff Development.

As we move forward are these the right 6 things that we need to continue to have at the center of our focus. Do some strategies need to move off the list? Should others be added over the next 4 years (2017)? Should we include sub-strategies under strategies?

The Board’s Role? The team (all those in attendance at retreat) discussed who has the main leadership responsibility. Ultimately the board is responsible to monitor, support, and make things happen.

Financial Security—BOARD.

Student Achievement—STAFF, but board needs to hire leadership to make it happen.

Building and Grounds—SHAREDBoard raises funds and hires out for projects (development); staff responsible for upkeep and vision for space (maintenance).

Curriculum & Technology: Curriculum (STAFF); and Technology (SHARED).

Curriculum and technology are linked and technology supports the curriculum.

Organizational Efficiency: SHARED (do we need to add more positions-what does staff need? What will board approve? Marketing, promoting ABS) Board brings expertise in business practices.

Teacher and Staff Development: STAFF

Charles gave an update on the targets for each strategy:


  • Surplus (amount TBD, but written into budget)
  • Policy regarding salaries and benefits (approved September 2013)
  • Operate with full classes K-8 (currently at maximum enrollment (451 this year). Next year maximum enrollment will be 510.
  • Capital Campaign of $500,000 (CC at 58% of goals as of 12/16/13)



  • Be recognized as a School of Distinction on the NC School Report Card. (report card delayed due to testing changes)



  • Fully furnished and equipped new building and updates to original building with funds from Capital Campaign (New building in operation with needed classroom furniture. Some rooms still in development.)
  • Safely manage traffic, parking, and student arrivals/departures will be implemented (New traffic implemented for 2013-14.   Stripping and Bollards set to be installed Jan. 2014)
  • Investigate feasibility of developing “theater space (no progress)



  • AIG certification (applied to state, waiting for approval)
  • Middle school will have one-to-one devices and a staff member will be responsible for overseeing the maintenance and operation of those devices (ABS has 120 student laptops for use in each classroom (grade 5-7) serving 160 students.   Maintenance of technology is covered by service contract with ATCOM.)



  • Assistant Principal (Paige Raper hired in July 2013)
  • Additional Positions: Curriculum Coordinator, Technology Facilitator, full-time Counselor (not discussed to date)
  • Increase Community Awareness (No official plan. Some has been achieved through Capital Campaign—how do we build a networked alumni community?)



  • Positive response on Working Conditions survey (Survey administered in spring)
  • Initially Licensed Teachers are assigned mentors (all ILTs have mentors)

Gayle noted this category seemed slim and needs more. Team discussed better delineating the strategies under this category. What do we want to identify as targets. Increase diversity of staff? Retention and satisfaction is key. How do we zero in on what teachers really need? We need to ask: What do you need to continue to grow and do what you need to do? How do we maintain best teachers? What is important to them? Recruitment of new teachers? What does the board need to provide for teachers to be able to do the best job they can do? Robin noted that this is a budget issue to figure out the best way to serve students and teachers. Debbie noted that research shows that teacher longevity heightens student achievement, so it is important to figure out how to retain our best teachers.

Gayle noted that “marketing, communication, alumni development” should be pulled out of organizational efficiency. Gayle thinks it could get lost and not get the attention that it needs if it is part of a sub-category. Joan Marie noted we need to be looking at long term cultivation of community for donor stewardship and donor cultivation.

Charles brought up Financial Security and asked for further ideas for targets. Capital Campaign already exists as a target. Gayle brought up thinking about a longer term capital plan and a long-term income stream plan (capital, annuals….what else?). Charles summarized it as operational performance over 3-5 year time period. How do you grow if income were to become flat and expenses continue to grow?


Joan Marie gave an update on the Capital Campaign as of 1/18/14

Goal $500,000

Amount raised to date: $333,971

Amount remaining: $166,029

Pending requests: $66,029

Amount remaining: $100,000

Total Friends and Family Gifts: $150,845.73 (Board members have given $56,550. Families have given $90,145.73. Staff: $4,150.00.) We are not going to officially approach parents again because we will be starting annual campaign in March.

Leadership Gifts $180,000.00 (Individuals $5,000; Corporations $115,000; Foundations $60,000)

Community Gifts $3,125 (Individuals $1,825, Businesses & Civic Groups, $1,300)

Eric asked how soon we can expect to have pledged funds. We expect to have them in 3 years, and we will have projected cash flow at next board meeting.

The team brainstormed, “How are we going to get this last $100,000?”

  • Approach middle sized companies, “local” businesses.
  • Other local foundations or organizations to ask for funds.
  • Leverage Community Creates
    • Crowd sourcing/social media
    • Sponsorship of Community Creates
  • Cultivation Event (Feb 5)
    • Creative Friends dinner with a short presentation and an ask for money
    • Board member events
  • Past Board Members
  • Historic Preservation Groups, grants for repurposing historic spaces
  • Naming opportunities (rooms, bricks, tiles)
  • Staff involvement
  • Matching donations for individuals and their companies
  • Alumni

Every board member will:

  • identify 8-10 community prospects
  • participate in the campaign solicitation training
  • make the campaign visits
  • achieve the goal!

Eric noted that this means each board member will only need to figure out how to raise $5,000 each. Joan Marie noted that you start by telling people a story and connecting to their passions.

Board Members filled out “Prospect List” and named 10 people who they could contact to donate to the capital campaign. Lists were turned into Robin to ensure that where there was overlap, the person best suited to solicit the donation did “the ask.” We are on a three year pay-out cycle. Robin will bring information on cash-flow of building costs, as well as the amount of cash we have on hand from capital campaign to the next board member. Joan Marie noted that donors want three things: 1. Thank them for the gift, 2. Put it to use the way they intended it to be used, 3. Tell them the outcomes and tell them the outcomes again!

Joan Marie asked what was the “Most Effective Way You Have Been Asked to Give a Gift?” The team responded:

  • Direct Mail
  • Social Media
  • Personal Letter
  • Personal Presentation
  • Email with story you are passionate about
  • Personal Ask/Visit (one-on-one)
  • Radio
  • Define/Equal Amount of $
  • Emotional Connection

Joan Marie presented what are known to be the most effective:

  • Personal visit from someone you know
  • Personal visit from someone you don’t know
  • Personal phone call from someone you know
  • Personal call from someone who has something in common with you
  • Personal letter from someone you know
  • Personal email from someone you know
  • Letter from someone you do not know, but respect
  • Form letter sent to individuals
  • Posters or advertisements requesting help

“The Art of the Ask?”

  • Know your purpose and your goal (sharing our story enthusiastically about ABS)
    • Have all necessary materials–case statement, pledge card, staff member
    • Establish the “ask to consider” amount before the visit
  • Know the prospect
  • Make the appointment
  • Your greeting establishes common ground
    • Get the prospect’s story–interest in children, education, arts,
  • Share the purpose of the visit
    • Share and discuss some of the important work that ABS is doing for the children in our community
    • Share your commitment as a volunteer and donor
  • Present philanthropic opportunity though storytelling
  • Know what you are asking for and why
  • Discussion—questions and answers
  • Wait for response
  • Close
  • Acknowledge the gift, thank the prospect, confirm details and thank the prospect for the opportunity to share the ABS story
  • If more time is needed to make a decision, know when to follow-up (make a specific time to call back or follow-up); thank the prospect for the opportunity to share the ABS story.
  • Don’t get discouraged
  • All visits are successful when someone learns more about ABS!

The team participated in a role play activity to practice how to tell their story and ask for money.


Identify and submit prospects list to Robin by 1/31/14

Pledge cards packets available—Feb . 10 at board meeting

Complete 5 of your calls by March 9—report at board meeting

Finish remaining calls by April 13—report at board meeting

Robin will find a time that we can have “standard tours” for perspective donors and email it to the board. Practice the words you want to use. Listening is KEY! Listen to what the other person has to say and let them tell their story about how they are connecting with your story.


Sawtooth School

Winston-Salem, NC

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

  1. Meeting Called to Order – 11:45AM

Eric called the January board meeting to order at 11:45am.

  1. Approval of December 2013 Minutes – ACTION REQUIRED -11:45-11:47AM

Chad made a motion to approve the December minutes. Leigh seconded the motion. The minutes were approved unanimously.

  1. Review of YTD financial statements (Renee) – 11:47-11:50AM

Financials were emailed. Mary B. noted that our surplus is still looking strong.

  1. Written Committee Report Questions/Discussion – 11:50-11:52AM

Principal’s Report: Robin noted that principal’s evaluation meeting will occur on Tues Jan. 18th at 5:00.

Capital Campaign: Joan Marie will make a list of “items and amounts” to put in the folder for asks.

  1. Update on Community Creates (Heather) – 11:52-11:58AM

Heather gave a Community Creates update. CC committee is working on sponsorship with First Tennessee bank. The committee is pairing artists and community leaders. We have new artists and new community members involved this year. The event will be April 26th.   Nick Bragg is the honorary chair of event. Community Creates has a budget line for revenue. Anything above and beyond will be put toward Capital Campaign. Event will feel different and be located in new building this year.

  1. Other Business – 11:58-12AM

No new business.

  1. Adjournment – 12:01AM

Eric adjourned the meeting at 11:51am.

LOTTERY and Next full Board meeting on 2/11/14.