August 17, 2019

HSB Minutes 11-14-2018

 Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Meeting Minutes

November 14, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

Hartford Town Hall


Board members present:  Michelle Boleski, Kevin Christie, Peter Merrill, and Russell North

Administrators present: Tom DeBalsi, Noel Bryant


1.  Call to Order:  Kevin Christie calls the meeting to order at 7:00pm.


2.  Public Comments

  • Zac Scott, community member, congratulates the Board on the Spanish program at Dothan Brook and expresses concerns about White River School not offering the same opportunities as those being offered at Ottauquechee and Dothan Brook.


3.  Changes, Additions and Approval of Agenda

  • Peter Merrill proposes that Policy EL 7 be addressed first on the agenda out of consideration for committee members in attendance.
  • Tom DeBalsi asks that Policy EL 4 Financial Condition and Activities be saved for a future meeting to allow for more time to gather information from Board auditor.
  • Peter Merrill moves to accept the agenda with the proposed changes.  The motion is seconded.  A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (4 yes, 0 no).


4.  Consent Agenda

  • Minutes –  Regular Meeting 10/10/2018
    • Russell North makes mention of the importance of including the minute taker’s name on minutes moving forward.
    • Peter Merrill moves to approve the consent agenda with the addition of minute taker’s name.  The motion is seconded.  A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (4 yes, 0 no).


5.   Items Requiring Board Discussion and Possible Action

  • Policy EL 7 Asset Protection
    • Wilder School Building Study Committee – Architect Selection and Approval
      • Four proposals were received for the RFP put out a week ago; out of the four, three companies were interviewed and qualified.  The Committee proposes moving forward with NBF given the company’s experience and technical proficiency; thoughtful presentation and research; and competitive bid, coming in at the lowest price point.
      • Visuals for the public will soon be made available.
      • Russell North moves to accept NBF proposal.  The motion is seconded.  A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (4 yes, 0 no).


  • Bench Dedication and Design
    • Tom DeBalsi presents a proposed design for the Laurie Dickerson dedication bench for the high school campus: a three-part sectional with capacity for several students.  Discussion follows on whether or not bench should have a back.  Board decides that a backless design would be best to create a fluid design and save on cost.
    • Peter Merrill moves to authorize Superintendent to accept proposed design and proceed with construction and installation.  The motion is seconded.  A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (4 yes, 0 no).


  • Adjacent Property Purchase Warrant Language
    • Tom DeBalsi reports the verbiage, drafted by Paul Giuliani, to be presented on the ballot based on the Purchase & Sales agreement.


  • Barwood Arena MOU
    • Tom DeBalsi informs that an alternative arrangement between HSD and Barwood has been proposed in an effort to create a logical and sustainable arrangement.  Instead of a rental or usage fee, an arrangement in which HSD makes payments toward the maintenance of infrastructure is being explored.  Language delineating what such reserve funds can and cannot be used for is being included in the draft of the memo of understanding (MOU).
    • Peter Merrill admonished that the agreement include language that protect necessary ice time and the HSD reserve, in case of a facility failure.  He added that language within arrangement should specify that the “turf” to be maintained is “artificial.”
    • Community member Zac Scott suggested that the new contract should allow for a portion of HSD reserves to be set aside to rebuild the facility if, for any reason, such a situation were to arise.  The Board clarified that, although HSD owns the lands, the actual facility is the town’s responsibility and, if it ever fell into extreme disrepair, there would be dialog between HSD and the Town to remediate the problem.
    • Peter Merrill moves to reserve further discussion regarding MOU to a future meeting after the Superintendent has presented the Board’s concerns.  The motion is seconded.  A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (4 yes, 0 no).


  • Policy EL 9.4 Communication and Support to the Board – Incidental Information
    • Town/School Meeting School
      • Upcoming key dates are:
        • 1/7/19: Information Night, during which different ideas are pitched to the community regarding warrants
        • 2/5-2/6/19:  Review of any bond pending approval
        • 2/25/19:  Traditional candidates night and budget discussion


  • 2019-20 School Calendar Draft 1
    • Preliminary draft of 2019-20 school calendar is presented.  Tom DeBalsi informed that the draft has been distributed to all school administrators and associated staff for review.  The Superintendent indicated one significant matter that remains unresolved is how to work school schedule around next year’s Election Day to minimize disruption to normal school activities.


  • Policy EL 5 Financial Planning and Budgeting
    • 2019-20 Budget – Preliminary Revenue Projections
      • The Superintendent reports that the State still has not provided projections for revenue and, consequently, this delay poses a formidable challenge to budgeting.
      • Finance Director Jim Vezina provides a handout with breakdown of expenditures and revenue for tech center and athletics, which were the remaining two pieces of the financial planning discussion.  He predicts that the parameters that the State will ultimately provide will results in a decrease on homestead rate.


  • Monitoring Reports
    • EL 8 Compensation and Benefits – Health Reimbursement Accounts (Superintendent)
      • The Superintendent informs that new heath insurance plans require that the school district include a health reimbursement account (HRA) or a health savings account (HSA) for employees.  An item that needs to be decided is how much the Board would like to contribute to required deductibles that employees have to pay.
      • Additionally, the Superintendent made two recommendations: 1) that HSD return to original company (Health Equity) given all of the difficulties and errors the previous two companies have presented; and 2) opting to proceed by offering employees and HSA instead of an HRA in an effort to facilitate more accurate budgeting.


  • GP 4 Agenda Planning (Christie)
    • Kevin Christie assesses the Board’s performance in agenda planning over the previous year as compliant in most categories but with opportunity for improvement in scheduling groups to direct Board in future planning and knowledge and in community engagement.
    • Peter Merrill moves to approve the report for agenda planning.  The motion is seconded.  A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (4 yes, 0 no).


  • B/SR 4 Delegation to the Superintendent (North)
    • Russell North deems the delegation’s performance in compliance across most categories, but with room for improvement in defining and communicating proficiency for graduating students.
    • Peter Merrill moves to approve and accept B/SR 4 delegation to the Superintendent.  The motion is seconded.  A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (4 yes, 0 no).


  • Policy GP 3 Board Job Outcomes:  Board Member Committee Reports
    • Hartford Community Coalition (Russell) – No updates
    • Regional Advisory Board (Boleski) – Tuition has gone up.  Challenges to budgeting and scheduling at the Tech Center are being addressed with counselors.  The application process is being converted into a solely digital one.
    • Manifest Approval (Christie) – Nothing new to report.  Requests for FSA and HSA appropriations are reviewed by the Board on a weekly basis.
    • Racial Inequity and Inclusion (Boleski, Russell) – Michelle Boleski attended the two-day Vermont for Multicultural Future conference that provided good direction on obtaining town and district grants for training and implementation.
    • Policy Review (Merrill) – Two policies reviewed with the Superintendent:  1) One minor change made to the policy regarding protection of gender non-normative students: instead of modifying school records every time a student opts to modify his/her own designation, a window of time will now be permitted the school to have changes reflected in the permanent school record.  This minor change was decided upon in order to minimize possibility for inadvertent mistakes in the school records. 2) The policy regarding free speech as pertains to media was also reviewed given the recent incident in Burlington.
    • Sister City Update (Boleski) – Selectboard member James son Davis represented Hartford at the ceremony inaugurating a subway car named ‘Hartford.’  Representatives from Cenon’s other sister cities were also present at the ceremony.
    • Wilder School Building Study Committee (Merrill) – Nothing additional to report.
    • Negotiations (Christie, North) – Both parties have agreed to pursue further training.  Currently, committee is working on drafting ground rules as to when to meet and how to ensure progress to keep the process moving forward.  Federal mediators suggested 16 hours of training to which teachers were hesitant to make such a commitment because the latter are hoping for more immediate changes.  Committee meets again 11/15) and 11/20.
    • Selectboard Liaison (North) – Nothing to report.
    • Social Media and Community Engagements (North) – More posts have been made to the Facebook page that has a small, but promising following.


6.   Meeting Review/Evaluation and Agenda Planning

  • Next Meeting Agenda
  • Meeting Evaluation
    • Peter Merrill evaluates the meeting as satisfactory.


7.  Adjournment

  • Peter Merrill moves to adjourn the meeting.  The motion is seconded.  A unanimous verbal vote passes the motion (4 yes, 0 no).  The meeting is adjourned at 10:29pm.



Next Regular School Board Meeting is Wednesday, November 28, 2018 at 7:00 PM at the Hartford Town Hall.



Respectfully submitted,



Amy Shaw

Board Secretary







Parking Lot – items to be considered at a later time


  • Rain garden in the high school parking lot
  • Educating all staff on policy provisions
  • Racial inequity training