July 19, 2019

HSB Meeting Minutes January 27, 2016

DATE: 01-30-2016

Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Meeting Minutes

January 27, 2016 @ 7:00 pm

The Getaway Dining Room at the HACTC/HHS

Board Members Present: Lori Dickerson, Paula Nulty, Russell North, Peter Merrill

Administrators Present: Tom DeBalsi, Noel Bryant, Jim Vezina

Student Representatives: Madelyn Koff, Luke LaFountaine

1.  Call to Order: Lori Dickerson calls the meeting to order at 7:01 pm.

2.  Consent Agenda:

  • Minutes - Regular Meeting 1-13-2016

  • Minutes - Special Meeting 1-20-2016

  • Peter Merrill moves to accept the consent agenda with the two changes to the 1-13-2016 minutes and with moving the acceptance of resignation and appointments to the executive session. Paula Nulty seconds. A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (4 yes, 0 no).

3.  Changes, Additions and Approval of Agenda

  • Peter Merrill moves to accept the agenda as already changed. Paula Nulty seconds. A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (4 yes, 0 no).

4.   Public Comments relative to items not on the Agenda:

  • Peter Merrill shares Kevin Christie’s news that the house has voted on part of Act 46 and the amendment contains changes such as some of the language that would help school districts with lowest allowable increase and a 0.9% raise of the limit across the board. This could affect the allowable limit in Hartford.

  • Nicole Vielleux, a teacher at DBS for 9 years and the HEA president, asks the board to think about speeding up the timeline for settling the contract. She knows the budget will impact staff and students and is concerned when also considering the unsettled contract. She would like to see more communication between the board and the teachers to move away from the us vs. them mentality that she observes. The HEA is committed to working with the board and would like initial negotiations to happen between the teachers and the board, rather than with an attorney. She would like to see movement forward on the contract soon.

  • Reid Cotless, who lives and works in White River Junction, responds to previous comments from Mr. Arnold, expressing that the hours teachers work was misrepresented. He believes that attacking the teachers affects local families and children.

  • Kim Dumont, a 3rd grade teacher at OQS, expresses that teachers deserve paychecks that reflect the value added to the community. She is concerned that, without competitive contracts, the district won’t be able to attract high quality teachers and she worries about the future of the community as a parent, teacher, and taxpayer.

  • Jeff Arnold, a Hartford resident, points out the discrepancy between weight scale between Hartford and surrounding areas and, alluding to the future decline in enrollment, is supportive of the board looking into consolidation.

  • Sandra Rhoades, a Hartford taxpayer and a teacher in the district since 1998, asks for a fair contract and respect for the profession, stating that she has 16 students that she appreciates and respects; that’s why she works more than the average workday.

5.   Items Requiring Board Discussion and Possible Action

  • FY 15 Financial Audit Report Review

    • Chris Barrett, the board’s financial auditor, presents the report which consists of management discussion and analysis, balance sheets of profit/loss statements, and a comparison of how the board did compared to the projections. He shares that the district's expenditures and revenues were very close to what the district projected.

    • The board thanks Chris Barrett for his hard work.

    • Tom DeBalsi recognizes Teresa Taylor, the district’s accountant, and Jim Vezina for their work.

    • Russell North moves to accept the audit report as presented. Peter Merrill seconds. A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (4 yes, 0 no).

  • FY 17 Budget Presentation

    • Jim Vezina reviews the tax collection more in depth. The total proposed expenditure is $35,847,564 and the projected general fund revenue is $27,259,573. All revenues (without the state educational tax) come to $13,880,318.

    • The state’s formula for equalized pupil count delays the pain to the state of the costs brought on by having fewer students. The AOE equalizes pupils by multiplying different weighting factors for factors such as LEP students and poverty students.

    • The base education amount increased $8 from last year. The statewide base homestead tax rate increased $0.01. The common level of appraisal is projected at 102.40%. Jim Vezina shares that the homestead tax rate will increase 0.044.

    • Lori Dickerson wonders, with all that is happening in the legislature with Act 46, how much the taxpayer will be affected. The board recognizes that the value agreed upon for the budget was before the changes happening on the legislative level. Peter Merrill clarifies that the board voted on a set dollar amount and if the amendments go through, the tax rate could decrease. Mr. Johnson adds that he doesn’t think the issue will be explaining the number to the voters but the justification of cuts.

    • For the budget presentation this year, Lori Dickerson offers to create a PowerPoint to present the information with the board’s support. Tom DeBalsi points out that it will be important to explain the facts that went into creating the budget. Explanation around cuts is difficult because there is no way to know what they will be yet and he doesn’t want to create anxiety in the community.

      • The first presentation is February 8 at 7 pm in the Town Hall.

  • Annual Report Review

    • Noel Bryant reviews the components of the Annual Report Review, which will be compiled with the town report. Contained within the report are the warnings, the school board’s letter to the community, the ENDS policies, a community profile, school enrollment numbers, special education enrollment numbers, free and reduced lunch data, school summaries, resources for budget information, student/staff data for enrollment, and information about the Reading Recovery. A new section called school report cards replaces many pages of graphs. The same information that was presented under NCLB is still being presented including areas of information, assessment results, and accountability. Also included in the report is teacher quality information, SAT/ACT scores, AP test scores, student plans after graduation, outcome data for tech center, the VT Youth Risk Survey, the technology report, data on extracurricular activities, and the budget.

    • Tom DeBalsi plans to link the information from the Vermont Youth Risk Survey to the district website so students can access the information. Paula Nulty also suggests making the data around extracurricular activities public, too.

    • Noel Bryant thanks the principals for supplying information for the report.

    • The board thanks Noel Bryant for her hard work.

    • Mr. Johnson suggests that the principals also list the names of retired staff, staff who have left, and new staff hirings for their schools.

    • Peter Merrill moves to approve the school annual report. Paula Nulty seconds. A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (4 yes, 0 no).

  • Board Code of Ethics

    • Paula Nulty had requested and was allowed to go through the code of ethics, finding it redundant when considering the other policies the board is expected to follow. She suggests that the code of ethics is incorporated into a process that new members go through when they join the board. Peter Merrill adds that the wording should include a pledge for comportment with compliance of policies.

    • Mr. Scott Johnson is surprised to hear no board member has taken the oath of office because elected officials need to swear loyalty. The board agrees that while it has not been common practice in the past, it is something that can and should occur going forward.

    • Paula Nulty suggests that the the board holds off on accepting the code of ethics until it has been looked into whether there is an oath that exists for the state. Tom DeBalsi will research this matter with help from the town clerk.

    • Peter Merrill moves to ask the superintendent to investigate the appropriate oath of office for elected school board members and to temporarily table the code of ethics. Paula Nulty seconds. A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (4 yes, 0 no).


  • Subcommittee/Liaison Reports

    • Student Board Representative

      • Luke LaFountaine shares that on Friday and Saturday there are three HHS students at the district festival for the jazz band and many other students there for district choir. The performance is in Springfield at 6 pm.

      • Madelyn Koff shares that the performance of The Struggle is on February 26-27. The boys’ varsity basketball team won their recent game by 10 points, the girl’s hockey team had a game, and there is a track meet on Saturday.

    • Policy

      • Peter Merrill shares that the committee continues to work on procedures for implementing the anti-hazing, bullying, and harassment policy by paring down the language for a useable document.

    • Negotiations

      • Lori Dickerson wonders if the teachers are willing to come back to the table without fact finding. Even though this doesn’t follow the procedure set, it sounds like teachers are anxious for movement in the negotiations.

    • Consolidation

      • Peter Merrill reports that the invitations to the meeting with members of local school districts who have partnered with the district have been sent out and they have heard back from around 15 people. He shares that he has created a short background presentation for the meeting.

    • HCC

      • Lori Dickerson shares that the next meeting with be focused on picking one of the four topics previously selected to focus on with the help of Marlboro College. The committee is hoping that those who came before and helped put the topics out there will return for the meeting.

      • Also, coming up is the next community forum on April 4 in the HHS auditorium. The film The Other Side of Cannabis will be shown with a conversation afterwards.

    • HACTC – RAB

      • Paula Nulty shares that the Tech Center excels at positive publicity with their publication of students of the month.

    • Charter

      • Lori Dickerson shares that they haven’t met as a committee. The public hearing was not well attended, but the committee did receive a lot of feedback.

6.  Incidental Information

  • Discussion of Future Items for Board Consideration

    • Tom DeBalsi shares that the estimates for the Regional Resource Center have come in and he would like to discuss it next board meeting.

    • Tom DeBalsi would like to discuss the use of the town hall for school board meetings.

    • Tom DeBalsi would like to share an electric company’s proposal to use some of the district’s property for solar panels.

    • Partnership Meeting – Thursday, January 28, 2016 at 5:30

9:18 Peter Merrill moves to have an executive session to discuss the superintendent’s contract and a personnel matter. Paula Nulty seconds. A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (4 yes, 0 no).

9:18 Peter Merrill moves to go into the executive session. Paula Nulty seconds. A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (4 yes, 0 no).

7.  Executive Session to discuss the Superintendent’s Contract and a Personnel Matter

8.  Adjournment

10:20 Peter Merrill moves to adjourn the executive session. No action was taken. Paula Nulty seconds. A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (4 yes, 0 no).

Draft Respectfully Submitted 1/30/2016

Hannah Prescott