August 13, 2020

Draft HSB Minutes 6-24-2020

Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Meeting Minutes

June 24, 2020 @ 6:00 PM

This meeting was conducted in accordance with the Revised Open Meeting Law.

Members Present Administrators Present

Kevin Christie Tom DeBalsi

Peter Merrill Noel Bryant

Russell North

Michelle Boleski

Katherine Trombley

1.  Call to Order 

The meeting was called to order by Mr. Christie at 6:02 PM.

2.  Public Comments  

The public was invited to join using, or by phone (415) 762-9988, meeting # 974 3075 5984.

Ms Bryant thanked the board for her gifts, a picture in her favorite hues and a beautiful flower bouquet to match. She has enjoyed her time in Hartford.

Mr. Christie thanked Ms Bryant for her service. Ms Boleski thanked Ms Bryant for her work in the district as well.

3.  Changes, Additions and Approval of Agenda

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to approve the agenda as presented, motion carried.

4.  Consent Agenda

Minutes - Regular Meeting 6-10-2020

Appointments, Resignations, Leave Requests

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to approve the Consent Agenda, motion carried.

5.   Items Requiring Board Discussion and Possible Action

First Read – Anti-Racism Policy

Mr. Merrill met with the Schweitzer fellows, Mr. Jameson and Ms King, and Mr. DeBalsi to review the draft of the Anti-Racism Policy. Mr. Jameson spoke about their work, much of the work in the policy is about making sure that students are safe and feel comfortable. Mr. Merrill noted that GP9 Governance Investment Policy was also reviewed and it is clear that the board is educated on this.

Ms King thanked the board for their work in addressing this work.

Ms Boleski thanked all for their work and is excited to see this.

Mr. North questioned: #2 policy scope, school board members were omitted? Mr. Merrill responded that this is a policy that governs the district through the superintendent.  #4.2 left out white privilege? Mr. Merrill responded that white privilege is referenced in definitions. Mr. North asked about clarification on the definition. Ms King responded that adding another line in the definition with practical language would be better. #4.4 gender or gender identity? Mr. Jameson agreed to the change to gender identity.

Mr. Christie asked about where this document will be posted. Mr. Merrill responded that it will be posted in all district buildings.

Ms Boleski asked about how the district would monitor this. She suggested that there be a designated staff position in each school who would do the specific instruction or be a resource for teachers. Mr. Christie responded that Mr. DeBalsi is working with the administrators on this. Mr. Merrill responded that #9 deals with the monitoring of this, there will be a report to the school board every two years. Training requirements are also defined in the procedures. Mr. Jameson responded that language is included that would protect the minority students of color. Procedures #2 requires a student committee at the high school.

The Schweitzer Fellows and the strategic plan language will support this.

Mr. Christie asked Mr. DeBalsi to consider a press release before the start of school, to inform the public. Mr. Merrill asked the Social Media Committee to make sure this is posted on the website and facebook page. Mr. DeBalsi has forwarded it to the Superintendents’ Association for others to use as a model policy.

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to accept the policy as amended and the language will be reviewed and action taken at the July board training. Motion carried. (This includes the language change to GP9)

Policy EL 2 – Relationship with Students, Parents and Community

Student Representative Report

Katherine spoke about the students’ excitement about summer starting and now with the rise in cases in other states are wondering about school in the fall. She liked graduation and the students were glad they were able to have a graduation ceremony. The junior class members are behind on career training and placement testing, will there be help with that testing and college prep work? Mr. DeBalsi will address this with the high school team.

Mr. Christie thanked her for her comments. 

Mr. North echoed the graduation comments, very nice.

Ms Boleski said the ceremony was well thought out and amazing.

Policy EL 9 Communication and Support to the Board – Incidental Information

Superintendent Report

Finance Update
Jake Vezina updated the board: Ron Smith-audit talks, have shared data with them, field work will happen July 27th, still working on the question of funding the HSA and HACTC

COVID – 19 Overview - Updates and Communication
-School ended with the end-of-year celebrations cut short;

guidance from DOE for planning for the fall, working with administrators on plan to keep all safe; two administrative groups working on plans- safety issues and learning group; no clear direction - will depend on what’s happening;

-Katherine asked about a plan to address the emotional state of students and staff. Mr. DeBalsi said yes, the social/emotional well being of students and staff is a concern and will be addressed. 

-Ms Bryant shared the April/May data collection which helped to identify the two main areas. More research is coming out which will help with the planning, i.e. don't worry about assessing the gaps because it takes away from instructional time. 

-Ms Bryant shared that the plan will be drafted and will be able to be put to use in any situation: face-to-face, remote, or hybrid.

-Ms Boleski asked about the updates from DOE, Mr. DeBalsi said there are daily updates from the DOE and weekly press releases. She asked about staff support. Mr. DeBalsi said there would be some paid summer work. She asked about social distancing in the classroom. Mr. DeBalsi responded yes, administrators are working on measurements and meeting this requirement.

-Mr. Merrill noted that the larger community behavior over the next few months will impact where we are in the fall. 

Strategic Plan for Equity and Inclusion Update
-Mr. DeBalsi reported that he will be meeting with the two new directors next week, this is on the agenda. Hopefully work will begin on this in the fall, at this point the focus is on the safe return of students. He will work on the plan this summer, the ethnic studies from the state will be ready for the fall. He asked for suggestions from the board.

-Mr. Christie echoed that the safe return of students is the priority now, thank you to the administrative team for their work.

Proficiency-Based Learning Policy Review – 2nd Read

Mr. DeBalsi discussed the recent instructional changes due to the closure. The remote learning had some positive impacts with students who may not  have been successful in the traditional classroom. There have been some good parts.

Ms Bryant talked about the importance of the transferable skills, content should not be the main driver. Using the skills as the driver and the content as the delivery helped move PBL along.

Moved by Mr, Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to approve the Proficiency-Based Learning Policy, 2nd Read, motion carried.

Summer Retreat Planning and Preparation

Mr. DeBalsi reported that he shared the documents provided by Val Gardner. He will give the board further directions once he hears back from her. He is hoping that this meeting will be done in person, with social distancing, he will look for a large room that can accommodate this. There will be a dinner provided. 

Ms Boleski asked that the GP2 survey data be reviewed. She also asked to review the action steps identified last year.

6.  Policy GP 3 Board Job Outcomes 

Board Member Committee Reports

Finance (Christie, North)
Select Board Liaison (North, Russell, Boleski)
North- Select Board is hoping that the tax rate comes out by the end of the month. There is one open seat, citizen group have notified groups about the welcoming policy violating potential grants

Boleski- didn’t find the posted meeting for 6/23/20

6/16/20-Curtis Reed and Mary summarized how to move forward with the strategic plan given a new administrator, BRAVO to the Select Board for putting on the Juneteenth celebration. 

Racial Equity Committee (Boleski, Russell)
Sister City (Boleski, Russell)
Social Media and Community Engagement (North, Boleski)
Hartford Community Coalition (Russell)
Christie- nice signs all over town about the free lunches

Regional Advisory Board (Merrill) 
Policy Liaison (Merrill)
Manifest Approval (Christie)
Christie- big close-out of year will be June 29th

7.  Meeting Review/Evaluation and Agenda Planning

Next Meeting Agenda/Parking Lot Items

July 29th- short business meeting, will adjourn and go into training

Anti-Racism Policy 2nd reading

Summer meeting hiatus, will not meet until July 29th

Meeting Review/Evaluation

The meeting evaluation was completed by Mr. North, the meeting was satisfactory.


8. Executive Session

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Ms Boleski, 

Per (1 VSA 313): c. (3) the appointment or employment or evaluation of a public officer or employee, provided that the public shall make a final decision to hire or appoint a public officer or employee in an open meeting and shall explain the reasons for its final decision during the open meeting; I further move that the Board enter into Executive Session to discuss the evaluation of a public employee under the provisions of Title 1, Section 313(a) (1) of the Vermont Statutes.

The board entered the Executive Session at 8:02 PM.

The board exited the Executive Session at 8:45 PM.

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North,

I move to approve the salary and merit pay for the Superintendent as discussed in Executive Session. All in Favor, 4-0-1 absent

9.  Adjournment

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to adjourn the meeting at 8:47 PM, motion carried.

Respectfully submitted,

Cherrie Torrey



The Next Regular School Board Meeting is Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 7:00 PM.

Board Summer Retreat July 29, 2020 4:00 – 8:00 PM