July 20, 2019

HSB Meeting Minutes March 9, 2016

DATE: 03-13-2016

Hartford Board of School Directors
School Board Meeting Agenda
March 9, 2016 @ 7:00 pm
Hartford Town Hall

Board Members Present: Lori Dickerson, Paula Nulty, Peter Merrill, Nancy Russell, Kevin Christie (on speaker phone)

Administrators Present: Tom DeBalsi, Noel Bryant

Student Representatives: Madelyn Koff

1.  Call to Order: Tom DeBalsi calls the meeting to order at 7:03 pm.

2.  Reorganization of the Board

  • Oath of Office for Newly Elected Board Directors

    • All elected board officers take the Oath of Allegiance and the Oath of Office.

  • Nominations for Board Chair

    • Peter Merrill nominates Lori Dickerson for board chair. Nancy Russell seconds. A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (5 yes, 0 no).

  • Nominations for Board Clerk

    • Peter Merrill nominates Paula Nulty for board clerk. Lori Dickerson seconds. A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (5 yes, 0 no.)

3. Consent Agenda

  • Minutes  

    • Regular Meeting 2-24-2016

    • Special School/Selectboard Budget and Charter Amendments Hearing 2-22-2016

  • Accept Resignations: None

  • Peter Merrill moves to approve the consent agenda as amended. Paula Nulty seconds. A unanimous verbal vote passes (4 yes, 0 no).  Nancy Russell abstains from voting since she was not involved in those meetings.

4.   Changes, Additions and Approval of Agenda

  • Peter Merrill reminds the board that they will sign the code of conduct. All of the board members sign the code of conduct.

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

5.   Public Comments relative to items not on the Agenda

  • Gail Haynes, the WRS librarian, expresses that since the budget passed, she is looking forward to a fair settlement with the teachers. She is concerned that the lack of a contract might discourage teachers from applying and that great teachers are leaving. She knows that the fact finding will occur later this month and urges the board to settle the negotiations with the teachers.

6.   Items Requiring Board Discussion and Possible Action

  • High School and Middle School Principal Search Committee Report and Nominations

    • Tom DeBalsi recaps the hiring process for the two principal positions. At the start of December, he and Noel Bryant met with with HMMS and HHS staff separately to  gather information about what the staff was looking for in their respective principals. During the first committee meeting, that information from the staff and information from the six administrator standards were organized into topics for the interviews. In mid-December, the advertisements went out. The committee reviewed resumes on SchoolSpring, choosing the top four candidates for each position.

    • The interviews began at the start of February.  The fourth candidate for the middle school position dropped out, so the committee interviewed three candidates. The committee completed interviews, met to discuss the candidates, choosing two for each position. They decided to host forums as the next step in order to obtain feedback from the community, faculty/staff, and students. The candidates were given three topics to discuss, had around fifteen minutes to present, with a question/answer period following the presentation. The forums were held on 2/29 (HMMS) and 3/1 (HHS). One of the HHS principal finalists dropped out but the forum was held for the remaining finalist. Those in attendance completed scoring sheets and those results went back to the committee.

    • Tom DeBalsi recognizes those on the search committee and thanks them for their time.

    • Evan Ellerson comments that the committee had a sense of clarity throughout the whole process, which was respectful, thorough, and exemplary. Ganga Hematillake shares that the process was meticulous and detailed.  After the forum, the committee had the opportunity to look at the score sheets and that feedback was used in their final decision. Kevin Christie expresses that the current hiring process has been developed and fine-tuned over the last five years in order to ensure that the efficacy of the process for selection of administrators is solid.

    • Tom DeBalsi is excited to nominate Tristan Upson for the HMMS principal position and Nelson Fogg for the HHS principal position. Both candidates excelled throughout the entire process and will bring fresh, new ideas to the schools.

      • Tristan Upson has worked in the district for eleven years as a teacher and has been a teacher leader for the past four years, leading professional development for the staff. She is part of the assessment team, has spent time in teachers’ classrooms ensuring curriculum is being followed, and has played an instrumental role in the school.

      • Nelson Fogg has worked in the district for over twenty years as a Social Studies teacher and then the assistant principal at HHS. During his time as assistant principal, he has brought H Block and Monday Morning Meeting to the high school. He has also led the standards movement.

    • Noel Bryant is thrilled to put both candidates forward and to work with them. She knows that the district has a lot of work coming up over the next couple of years and sees that both candidates have understanding of the needs of their schools.

    • Peter Merrill brings up the fact that while Tristan Upson is a superlative educator, she doesn’t have experience as an administrator. Tom DeBalsi explains that she has experience as a leader. Leading staff development is not an easy feat and Tristan had done a great job bringing teachers together in a common approach. She is currently a teacher leader, which is a stepping stone for leadership in the district. When Julia Haynes had to take medical leave, Tom DeBalsi sought out Tristan Upson to apply and she was considered for that position. He shares that a good principal needs to have been a good teacher, and Tristan Upson runs an exemplary classroom, is respected by her students,  and is highly regarded by faculty through her teaching and role in her school. Both he and Noel Bryant will be there to support and supervise, especially during the two year probationary period, and Tristan Upson will also have an outside principal mentor.

    • Kevin Christie speaks to the mentor program for new administrators. This program was started four years ago by legislature to support educational leadership throughout state. Noel Bryant explains that over the last few years the role of principal has been changing from simply a manager to also being an instructional leader. The challenge has been to develop principals who have that additional ability, but Tristan Upson comes to the position with that already in place. She sees both of the candidates as visionaries who will play very important roles as moving forward as the district prepares students for the 21st century.

    • Lori Dickerson thanks the committee for their great work.

    • Peter Merrill moves to accept the nominations for HMMS and HHS principals put forth by the superintendent and welcomes the new administrators to their roles. Kevin Christie seconds. A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (5 yes, 0 no).

  • Hazing, Harassment and Bullying Policy and Procedure – 1st Reading

    • Peter Merrill shares that the committee has been working on the policy and procedure for months, translating the draft policies into useable material that is closely aligned with state requirements.They went to great lengths to maintain the draft language provided by the state and the policies/procedure are exactly what the district needs to be in compliance with statutes and protect those in the district.

    • The policy committee is made up of administrators, who deal with these issues frequently, and used feedback from counselors in terms of how to incorporate the practices that have been developed.

    • Paula Nulty asks if the policies only come into play for people of the protected classes. Peter Merrill responds that the committee is legally required to ensure that those are protected, but is not limited to only those who are protected by the policies. If someone is bullied but does not fall into one of protected classes, the principal has the ability to address the issue.

    • The board discusses style of the policy, regarding whether the way that the sentence that states the policy applies to all students is currently presented in a manner that makes it appear less important. Madelyn Koff wonders if economic status is also a protected class.

    • Kevin Christie expresses that since this was the board’s first reading, the points that were brought up should be addressed to the policy committee.  In consideration to those involved, it would be appropriate for the committee to take another look at it even though the school board has the final decision. Peter Merrill will also double check if economic status is a protected class.

    • Paula Nulty asks if there is required training for the staff around these policies and procedures. Tom DeBalsi answers that two people from each building are designated as the investigators and received the training at the start of the school year. There is no specific requirement for teacher training, but this is something that can happen each year for all employees of the district.

    • Lori Dickerson thanks the committee for their work.

  • Board Members Visit to Wilder School report

    • Paula Nulty shares her experience visiting the Wilder School and director Roisin Viens. Visiting the school with students present was a completely different experience; because of the  focus devoted to the students, she at times did not even notice the conditions of her surroundings. There is a reward system in place; regardless of grade,  there are steps that the students make every day.  Behavior, doing work, and doing work well is constantly rewarded. Students usually choose one-on-one time with staff/teacher doing an activity with them when they have earned their reward.

    • During the visit, Roisin Viens shared that if a divider wall could be put in the counseling room, the school would be able to provide double the counseling they are able to do, which Paula Nulty feels is a reasonable, practical request. Tom DeBalsi shares that the school has some funding in their budget for some minor changes. He knows that the building is in need of larger fixes, which the board will need to discuss later, but the divider should be under $1,000 and that it should occur.

    • Paula Nulty praises the staff at the Wilder School for what they do. Tom DeBalsi agrees, sharing that most of the students in the program are able to return to their schools after being at the Wilder School.

  • Board Member Committee Assignments – including Sabbatical Committee

    • Noel Bryant explains that she is in charge of the sabbatical committee, which allocates money to teachers taking part in professional development, covering hotel, food, and travel costs. (Those costs are not covered by the money budgeted for each teacher’s professional development per year.)  Nancy Russell volunteers to join the committee.

    • Board members determine the new committee assignments:

      • Policy - Peter Merrill

      • Negotiations - Kevin Christie and Lori Dickerson (with Peter Merrill as the alternate) for teacher negotiations, Paula Nulty for support staff negotiations

      • Consolidation - Kevin Christie and Peter Merrill

      • HCC - Nancy Russell

      • Select Board - Lori Dickerson

      • HACTC - RAB - Paula Nulty

    • Kevin Christie will continue to sign the weekly check manifest for the district.

  • Meeting Postings – Websites, Print Media, List-Serve

    • Lori Dickerson shares that Barbara Farnsworth approached her, asking if it was possible for the school board meeting minutes to be posted to the town site, too. Tom DeBalsi will work with the individual who runs the town’s website to see if there is a possibility of creating a page on each site with official meeting information or another solution to make it easier for individuals to find the information.

  • Subcommittee/Liaison Reports

    • Student Representatives

      • Madelyn Koff shares that there is a service trip during April break, the German exchange students are coming, the spring sport session is gaining strength, Concert Grande occurred last night, and the students who went to Thailand/Laos gave their presentation today at 6 pm today.

    • Policy

      • Tom DeBalsi shares that he met with the athletic director and the committee is ready to dig into writing policy around code and developing procedure around coaches, spectators, and students.

    • Negotiations

      • Lori Dickerson reports that the process is moving along with gathering information for the fact finder. The meeting with the fact finder is on 3/29 at 1 pm. Also, Lori Dickerson has been approached by Cherrie Torrey, the chief negotiator, through the Valley News, that she would like to get together before the meeting. While Lori Dickerson wished she had been emailed directly, she is open to a meeting prior to the meeting with the fact finder.

    • HCC

      • Lori Dickerson sent a flier a to Tom DeBalsi to share with teachers regarding the documentary “The Other Side of Cannabis: The Negative Effects of Marijuana on our Youth” that is showing 4/4 at 6pm in the HHS auditorium.


7.  Incidental Information

  • Discussion of Future Items for Board Consideration

    • Tom DeBalsi would like to discuss the Wilder School repairs at a future meeting.

    • Peter Merrill would like to return to the practice of having a calendar of reports.

    • Val Gardener is holding sessions in Berlin on 3/1 from 11 am - 4 pm, which are free for board members to attend. Tom DeBalsi wants to know if any board member is interested in attending with him. He mentions it is also a possibility to have a retreat session with Val.

    • Peter Merrill would like the board members to start thinking about adding a retreat and subject matter that they would like to discuss.

  • Introduction and Invite to Board Directors to the showing of “Most Likely to Succeed”

    • Noel Bryant invites the board to the documentary, speaking to the importance of the film, which addresses how schools are preparing their students and what do public schools need to be teaching their students by documenting innovative schools where students are most likely to succeed in 21st century. The film is playing in the HHS auditorium on 3/25  at 8:30 am to all HHS staff and some HMMS staff.

    • Noel Bryant also invites the board to join the group from the district visiting South Portland High School in Maine, which is a PBL school, on 4/26-4/27. The group will have a chance to be in classrooms and talk with administrators, teachers, and students.

  • Tom DeBalsi shares that he included the floor meeting minutes from last year and that meeting is coming up on 3/26 at 10 am in the HHS gym. Lori Dickerson shares that this might be a good time to highlight the positive events that have occurred in the district for teachers and students, and the board agrees.

9: 05 Peter Merrill moves to have an executive session to discuss the evaluation and employment of a public officer or employee. Paula Nulty seconds. A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (5 yes, 0 no).

9: 06 PM moves to go into executive session. Paula Nulty seconds. A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (5 yes, 0 no).

8. Executive Session will be needed for discussion of the evaluation and employment of a public officer or employee

9.  Adjournment

10:10 Peter moves to exit executive session. Paula Nulty seconded. A unanimous verbal vote passed the motion (5 yes, 0 no).

10:15 Peter moved to adjourn. Paula Nulty seconded. A unanimous verbal vote passed the motion (5 yes, 0 no).

Draft Respectfully Submitted 3/13/16
Hannah Prescott