January 29, 2022

HSB Minutes 9-22-2021


Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Community Engagement Meeting Minutes

September 22, 2021 @ 6:00 pm

In-Person at Hartford Town Hall and Online (Zoom) Meeting  

Public Link: https://zoom.us/j/97430755984 
Meeting ID 974 3075 5984

 

Members Present                                          Administrators Present

Kevin Christie                                                  Roy Hathorn

Peter Merrill                                                    Cathy Newton

Nancy Russell                                                 

Russell North

Havah Armstrong Walther

 

          1.  Call to Order 

Welcome Select Board Members, HCOREI Members

     Mr. Christie called the meeting to order at 6:03 PM. He welcomed all participants. He asked for a moment of silence for Mr. DeBalsi, whose father passed away recently.  

     The Select Board meeting was called to order with a quorum present. 

     
Changes, Additions and Approval of Agenda  
Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to approve the agenda as presented, motion carried. 
 

          2.  Continuing the Conversation on How to Build a Community around Issues of Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion – Dr. Mary Gannon

Mr. North introduced Dr. Gannon who will give the presentation tonight. Dr. Gannon referenced the first session in March 2021 where the focus was on building an understanding using common language. She noted the diverse audience, coming from a variety of backgrounds and different life experiences. She reminded the group that they don’t all have the same daily life experiences, people in Hartford all have different days. As you build the “Community Muscle” you may need to consider taking a pledge to ensure a safe environment. 

What are the core values of social equity? How do we best support our students? Remember history and talk about the history, how does the history of the town impact the actions of the community? 

Dr. Gannon referenced The Sum of Us, by Heather McGhee, as a current good book on the topic.

Small break-out group discussion: how do you identify racially; craft a 6-7 word sentence that describes your relationship to your race; and talk about the impact of working on the previous 2 prompts.

Ms Walther asked the group about the seven attendees, will they be invited to participate? All attendees were invited to be panelists by CATV and able to participate. 

Dr. Gannon asked the groups to share any new thoughts or awareness:

Labels are often used and they may not accurately reflect a person’s race or there may not be a label that fits. 

The concept of guilt of our history impacts our actions today. 

The majority of the participants in one group were comfortable sharing, if one was uncomfortable he felt safe in the group and shared openly. Intellectual abilities and the audience you’re in impacts your ability to openly share. 

It was uncomfortable to talk about myself and my racial identification.

What impact does trauma have on this? Safety is the first priority. 

Dr. Gannon thanked the group for their participation with the discussion points.

She asked the group to think about their layers and legacies, the areas that have led their beliefs. What lens are you looking through? Equity can be a lens, you can judge what’s happening in the school district, curriculum, etc? Community examples were shared, legacy stories that were impacted by racism. 

Consider the key elements that operate in any organizational culture: values, beliefs, and assumptions, they may not mean the same by all. 

Small group discussion: how do you understand the core values of the structure you operate with? How do they reflect equity and anti-racism? Thinking about the community, who is represented at the table? Who’s voice is on the menu? What are the roles that you need to continue building capacity? What are some of the challenges you are facing?

Mr. Merrill noted that the district policies do not address racial divide. Ms Walther suggested the board evaluate the goals vs policies and see if the goals support the work. 

The Select Board members wondered if there is a Town Mission Statement. Who are we reaching? Some people may not be reachable. Some people may be engaged in their topic, but not looking at the big picture. The town has a broad spectrum to look at, some items might get more attention with the public, but all have to be addressed.

How do we move the needle? The Strategic Plan is a blueprint, but should be considered a work-in-progress. It should be a framework for the work. 

Dr. Gannon thanked the body for their work tonight and is happy to continue supporting this work. 
      Mr. Christie noted the importance of continuing the work. Do The Ends policies still include what is valued? Mr. North replied that was the plan to continue to review the policies.

Mr. Merrill thanked the Select Board and HCOREI members for joining the discussion tonight. 

The Select Board Meeting adjourned at 8:05 PM. 

 

          Update on School District Policy EL 10 – Race and Equity

               Mr. North explained to the group what policy EL 10 is, what the superintendent is responsible for and limitations on his actions. Mr. DeBalsi has to report to the board at least annually on the district’s performance. This policy was recently adopted. 

Mr. Hathorn and Mrs. Newton updated the board on the Race and Equity work from last year. He noted the tab on the district website and that each building has a group with goals.  

Maggi Ibrahim, Equity Coordinator, shared the work she’s been doing. She has met with community members through Police Chief Vail, HCOREI, Hartford Community Coalition, and BIPOC Family Caucus. The district website lists resources for staff. The Equity Advisory Council is in place. The Mosaic Education Network is providing staff development. She has been visiting classes. She has been doing some coaching around elementary curriculum and identifying resources for staff. 

Mrs. Newton shared many goals for the upcoming year. 

Mr. Hathorn referenced the Independent Learning Experience at the high school and how students are able to focus on diversity and equity issues. 

Mr. Hathorn asked Mr. Christie to work at the state level to continue the work of the group that provided VT Diversifying the Educator Workforce webinar.

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to accept the first EL10 report on Race and Equity. Motion carried. 

 

3.  Executive Session of the School Board may be necessary to discuss a collective bargaining issue.

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, that there is a need for an Executive Session to discuss a collective bargaining issue, under 1 VSA 313 (a)1(B) labor relations agreement with employees. Motion carried.

The board entered Executive Session at 8:22 PM. The board came out of Executive Session at 8:30 PM.

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to approve the Memorandum of Understanding as presented in the Executive Session. Motion carried unanimously. 

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to accept the resignation of Katie Jacobson, OQS and to appoint Chance Lindsley to the WIlder School. Thank you to Katie and welcome to Chance. Motion carried.                                       

 

4.  Adjournment

     Mr. North did the meeting evaluation, the meeting was satisfactory.

     Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to adjourn the meeting at 8:45 PM, motion carried.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Cherrie Torrey

Recorder

 

Next Regular School Board Meeting is October 13, 2021, at 6:00 PM