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Featured Column: Update from the Board of Trustees
Dear CMS Families,
As 2013 comes to an end, I am happy to share an update on the work of our Board Committees and our progress as it relates to the annual goals I outlined in my letter earlier this year.
(1) Facilities. The Facilities Committee, chaired by Laura Russ, held several information sessions this fall with faculty and staff; parents; and our Bellis Circle neighbors to introduce our concept for campus expansion at the Elementary site. Despite our well-received attempts to proactively reach out to neighbors, the zoning process in Cambridge is long and unpredictable. We are continuing to work with our architects and zoning attorney to produce a plan that will gain city approval. Laura will provide further details in an upcoming CMS Now article.
(2) Development/Giving: The Development Committee, chaired by Jess McLear, has been hard at work preparing for our 50th year. Efforts include the creation of a subcommittee of expert parents focused on corporate and foundation support for our 50th year. You will be hearing more from Director of Development, Kyla Graves, about ways in which you can help with this effort, particularly, if you work at a company that underwrites or donates to such events. The school has also kicked off its annual CMS Fund. I cannot stress enough the importance of this Fund. Tuition dollars alone do not cover the education of each CMS student. We rely on the support of parents like you to make our school what it is. I ask that you consider increasing your donation this year in honor of our 50th.
(3) Communication: CMS Now keeps our community updated, particularly with the new model of guest columnists. The monthly breakfasts with Ingrid are well attended and continue to engage parents. Each PA meeting features a member of the administration. Our learning specialists spoke at the last meeting. We encourage all of you to attend PA meetings to hear the latest school updates, ask questions and share thoughts.
(4) Board visibility: The Committee on Trustees, chaired by Ted Wilson, continues to lead efforts on increasing trustee visibility. Trustees actively attend school events. For example, our external trustees have attended Bellis Circle Neighborhood meetings, Facing History and Ourselves, and Parent Association meetings. I continue to attend PA meetings and issue this letter to keep our community updated. On January 28th the Board will host our annual State of the School meeting. This event is another great opportunity to learn more about the progress of our school.
Along with continuing its primary job of identifying and recruiting qualified candidates for the CMS board, the Committee on Trustees has actively assisted in revising and revitalizing our operating rules (including Bylaws) and in exploring ways that we can become more effective in our governance role. Trustees attended this fall's AISNE Governance Conference extending our commitment to professional development by including board members.
(5) Strategic Plan: At our November meeting, we spent a significant amount of time reviewing Ingrid’s goals for this year. As most of you know, the Board has one employee, our Head of School. In a collaborative discussion, we finalized these goals and the measurements. We also ensured that these goals are aligned with the outcomes of our strategic plan.
(6) Marketing: Our Marketing Committee, co-chaired by Jon Turner and Anja Langbein-Park, has started to work on the long-term process of developing a new tagline, positioning statement and other branding materials that we will launch in the spring.
(7) Finance: Our Finance Committee, chaired by Annie Lawson, is finalizing a three-year financial model for the school, and crafting a new investment policy. It is also supporting the Business office in implementing new, tighter fiduciary requirements for the Board and the School around the CMS-sponsored retirement plan offered to faculty and staff, and in broadening our potential bank lending relationships. It continues to perform ongoing routine duties of financial oversight and partnership with the Administration around our operating budget.
Over Thanksgiving, I had time to reflect on the time and commitment our trustees devote to CMS. I want to thank all of them for their time and enthusiasm. The school is in good hands with their leadership.
Rachel van der Voort
Chair, Cambridge Montessori School Board of Trustees
On behalf of:
Annie Lawson, Treasurer
Laura Russ, Clerk