Council Summaries February-March 2016

This is a summary describing the month’s work of the temple’s three major decision-making bodies. A governance notebook with approved minutes is filed in the temple office. A list of current Council members and areas of concern, individual charges to leadership and temple job positions are listed under Organizational Structure.

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors met March 31, 2016, with nine members and two guests present. Discussed the following action items.

  • The Sangha Forum will provide an opportunity to discuss the wrap-up of Lotus Blooming and the upcoming May Sit, the development of a fee policy for the center, the succession plan to allow for the installation of a new abbot, and an update on Dharma Garden.
  • The Emergency Preparedness process is focusing on earthquake hazards in the Frog Song classroom.
  • The fee policy is nearing completion and will emphasize programs that we offer with no charge, as well as provide general guidance for setting fees for other programs.
  • The pre-school is preparing to hire a new assistant teacher for next year. Enrollment is ongoing and there is a lot of interest in the program. The budget shows close agreement between expenses and income. A sub-committee of the Board was formed to formally approve all hiring decisions for the pre-school.
  • We expect to receive a temporary certificate of occupancy before the May Sit. The permanent certificate depends on the street work being complete, which requires replacing the trees.
  • Final review of the lease with Siskiyou Co-Housing is underway. No problems are expected.
  • Discussed the fundraiser.
  • Discussed whether it was a good idea to continue renting both rental houses without a full complement of residents. The possibility of letting go of the Siskiyou House was considered since the lease will need to be renewed in June.
  • Began discussion about clarifying priorities and values for the future.
  • Several topics were proposed for further discussion at the Board retreat.

Dharma Council

The Dharma Council met on March 10.

  • Discussed the lay practice retreat scheduled for September, with the plan to include a Beginners Retreat on Saturday at Uji, to join in with the larger retreat for zazen periods.
  • Discussed Introductory Workshops, and the process for certifying leaders. The Mandala Council will be requested to do fill the job roles and a member of the Dharma Council will design training for both leaders and assistants.
  • Reports from other Councils: property report (occupancy permit expected to be received by May), succession plan update (to be highlighted at the May Forum), and the schedule for the May sit.

Other Business Items

  • Fee policy recommendations: increased premium for non-members, more consistency on meal prices and variable costs for workshops intended as fundraisers. Discussed increased seminary fees to be more in line with long advanced study classes elsewhere. The group noted by consensus that raising the fees would be agreeable if we also include a scholarship process. The group also supports a moderate increase in retreat fees (meals and overnights). The policy recommendation to the Board will be revised to reflect this discussion, noting that the Dharma Council’s role is to make suggestions only.
  • Reviewed Sangha Forum topics.
  • Some members of affiliated groups have expressed interest in participating in seminary classes. The Council discussed their membership status for determining fees for those without membership status in Dharma Rain. Several points were made in support of a family and supportive relationship and the Council agreed by consensus that seminary policy would add that students are “expected to be senior members of Dharma Rain or its affiliated groups.” Tuition would be the same.
  • Sodo rental fees. Although the Board would need to approve, the temple officers group (which meets monthly) is recommending that staff have more autonomy to make practical decisions without approval. As an example, the Dharma Council has a say in who rents from us but not how much to charge. Staff in charge of Facilities Use can make decisions within general parameters set forth by the Board and Dharma Council.

Mandala Council

The Mandala Council met March 27th with all members and Shuso in attendance.

  • As of now we have a current and accurate listing of temple jobs and team leaders.
  • New business included pursuing training for new and existing guest masters in the context of our new space. We have a new lead for the guest master team and a training date for the group will be scheduled.
  • The Council is pursuing training for retreat tenzos and the temple tenzo will determine the development path and assess readiness. Opportunities for practice in this role will take place over the next couple of years.