July 19, 2019

HSB Meeting Minutes October 28, 2015

DATE: 10-31-2015

Hartford Board of School Directors
School Board Meeting Agenda
October 28, 2015 @ 7:00 pm
 HACTC/HHS Getaway Dining Room

Board Members Present: Lori Dickerson, Paul Keane, Kevin Christie, Paula Nulty, Peter Merrill   

Administrators Present: Tom DeBalsi, Noel Bryant, Jim Vezina

Student Representative: Madelyn Koff

1.  Call to Order:  Lori Dickerson calls the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.


2.  Consent Agenda

  • Minutes - Regular Meeting 10-14-2015

    • Lori Dickerson clarifies that four board members were present and voting. Peter Merrill wishes it to be noted that he was absent. The wording around the issues of whether young students should be handcuffed in the district was updated to better reflect Paul Keane’s concerns.  

    • Peter Merrill  moves to accept the amendment of meeting minutes. Paula Nulty seconds. A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (4 yes, 0 no) with Peter Merrill abstaining.

  • Accept Resignations and Appointments

    • Tom DeBalsi explains that Kate Kenney has resigned early from her position from art teacher at HMMS and expresses thanks for her six years of service.

    • Joe Collea (HHS principal) and John Grant (HMMS principal) are both retiring at the end of this school year. The board expresses that they will be greatly missed.

    • Peter Merrill moves to express the board’s gratitude to those retiring and accept the resignations of John Grant, Joe Collea, and Kate Kenny. Paula Nulty seconds. A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (5 yes, 0  no).


3.  Changes, Additions and Approval of Agenda

  • Lori Dickerson wishes to add the topic of support staff negotiations to the agenda.

  • Peter Merrill moves to approve agenda as amended. Paula Nulty seconds. A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (5 yes, 0  no).


4.   Public Comments relative to items not on the Agenda

  • Kevin Christie speaks about a HHS student’s renewed interested in biology due to her recent experience presenting at Tufts University on biodiversity and water. He will provide the board with the link to the presentation to highlight a positive event of a Hartford student.


5.  Items Requiring Board Discussion and Possible Action**


  • Budget Draft 3

    • Jim Vezina wishes to clarify the misconception that students with school choice are choosing options other than HSD. Both Vermont and New Hampshire have experienced decreases in population with 10,000 fewer students in Vermont and 24,000 fewer students in New Hampshire. Even so, HSD had 99 tuition students last year and has 103 currently.  

    • Jim Vezina clarifies the parts of the budget allocated to special education in the district. The money for special education pays case managers, related services (psychological services, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists), and administration. HSD has hired a new psychologist, rather than contracting out, to better support students.

      • The total budget for special education is around $6 million. There is also a federal grant (IDEA) for $420,000. Tom DeBalsi reminds the board that 56-60% of costs spent on special education are reimbursed by the state and in the case that a student’s cost exceeds $50,000 for one year, 90% of that money is reimbursed by the state. The head of special education, Liz Barker, carefully documents which services students are receiving.

    • Jim Vezina points out that while there are lower costs for equipment this year since technological equipment and adaptive equipment needs were already addressed, there are still increased costs due to the step increase and increased health insurance for employees.

    • Jim Vezina discusses that the homestead tax rate has increased to balance out costs after what is received from the state grant. The district will learn in December the equalized pupils number, the base education amount, the homestead tax rate, and the common level of appraisal. Lori Dickerson and the board thanks Jim Vezina for his hard work.

  • Consolidation Presentation from HCC meeting

    • Peter Merrill presents on Act 46 based on information from the Vermont School Board Association meeting last week.  Last year, there were questions around whether the town could support the proposed budget, and this same topic is being addressed by the state.

    • Peter Merrill reports that state legislature is in a bind due to a 10%  decrease in the student population but a 38% increase in spending. Vermont will pay for education through sustainable governance structures that will provide education at a reasonable cost. This means larger and fewer school districts in the state to control cost of education and improve the quality of education. The idea behind this move is that bigger districts offer more resources/opportunities to students and that the more students a district has, the cheaper it is to teach them.

    • Peter Merrill explains that the state wants a single Pre-k - 12 district, serving at least 900 students, with one of four common structures. HSD technically meets those requirements. However, there are issues around school choice and the Allowable Increase Limit (AIL).

      • Regarding school choice, the Vermont Board of Education decided that whatever a district does within their district must apply to all students within that district. Peter Merrill clarifies with the example that Hartland, which has school choice, cannot  join any structure that denies them choice if they want to retain their tradition of school choice.

      • The state has set an Allowable Increase Limit (AIL), attempting to control education costs. HSD has $244 more to spend on each student next year. If the district spends more, the district is taxed on the amount that exceeded that limit.

    • Peter Merrill closes with the hope that a future consolidation would be able to improve the the quality of education and allow us to solve problems. The board thanks Peter Merrill for his presentation.

  • School Parking Lot Paving Options

    • Tom DeBalsi shares the new preliminary estimates for the lot paving. Last year, the estimate for a full repaving was over $1 million. The estimate for reclaiming the lots’ surfaces on campus (excluding the HACTC, which needs to be rebuilt) is around $540,000. The reclaiming process is good for about 10-12 years.

      • The original estimate for the HACTC parking lot was around $130,000, while the new estimate is around $100,000. The original estimate for the high school front, roadway, and side lot was around $675,000, while the new estimate is around $230,000. The original estimate for the parking lot between the high school and middle school was around $325,000, while the new estimate is around $146,000.

    • The board discusses that if a bond is used to pay for the paving, the lots should be repaved instead of reclaimed. Lori Dickerson questions if there are other options not yet considered, and Paula Nulty suggests that more lighting be added to the parking lot area. The discussion is tabled.

  • Clarification - when might police need to handcuff a child at school

    • Tom DeBalsi shares Chief Kasten’s view that unless a crime or threat of violence to students/faculty has occurred, a student will be cited and released to parents from the school.

    • Lori Dickerson suggests that the board watch Chief Kasten’s portion of the HCC meeting where he spoke to the relationships with the superintendent and the training of a crisis intervention team. His  objective is to de-escalate confrontation and build relationships. Mr. North points out that since two administrators are resigning, there is the opportunity to search for administrators who have the same beliefs and wish to build relationships.

    • It is a sense of the board that Tom DeBalsi is cognizant of the fact that the police's role is that of protector not disciplinarian.

Subcommittee/Liaison Reports

  • Policy, Negotiations, Consolidation, HCC, Select Board, HACTC –RAB

    • Policy

      • Peter Merrill reports that the committee continued work on harassment policies. They are two-thirds of the way through the model language provided and hope to be done by late December or early January.

    • Negotiations

      • Lori Dickerson reports that there is no movement since groups are waiting for the attorney and the teacher union representative to find an agreeable fact finder.

      • There is no movement on support staff negotiations.

    • Consolidation

      • Kevin Christie reports that there is a meeting with the Norwich group on 11/4 (Wednesday) and that Sharon, Norwich, Thetford, and Stafford are participating the the study group. The committee has requested to be on Hartland’s agenda to present on the long relationship between the two towns.

    • Select Board

      • Paul Keane informs Peter Merrill that there was a misunderstanding from a member of the community around the consolidation presentation. He also sent the board photographs of the access road, the track runway, and sandpit dome that are completed. The discus pad had not been put in yet. The board is proud of the appearance.

    • HACTC - RAB

      • Paula Nulty reports that the committee has been continuing work on their calendar.


6.  Incidental Information


        Discussion of Future Items for Board Consideration

  • Paul Keane reports that a community member would like the addition of a window/door from the HHS office looking into the front lobby to be discussed.

  • Paula Nulty would like to discuss if there is a pattern of reasons why teachers leave the district.  

Peter Merrill motions to have an executive session to discuss issues related to negotiation with support staff. Kevin Christie seconds. A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (5 yes, 0  no).

Peter Merrill moves to go into executive session. Paula Nulty seconds. A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (5 yes, 0  no).

 7. Executive Session 

No action was taken. 

9:15 Peter Merrill moved to leave executive session. Paul Keane seconded. 

8.  Adjournment

9:20 Peter Merrill made a motion to adjourn. Paul Keane seconded. The meeting was adjourned.

Draft Respectfully Submitted

Hannah Prescott