June 25, 2022

HSB Minutes 2-9-2022

Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Meeting Minutes

Wednesday, February 9, 2022 @ 6:00 pm

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

Members Present                                          Administrators Present

Kevin Christie                                                  Tom DeBalsi

Peter Merrill                                                    Cathy Newton

Nancy Russell                                                 Roy Hathorn

Russell North

Havah Armstrong Walther

Olivia Merrill

          1.  Call to Order

-        Changes, Additions and Approval of Agenda  

Mr. Christie called the meeting to order at 6:03 PM.

Mr. DeBalsi asked to add appointments, resignations, and retirements. He also asked for an executive session. 

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Ms Walther to approve the agenda as amended. Motion carried.

          2. Global Ends Reporting (Section 1 Policy EP)

-        Review of District Ends Policies in Relation to Current Events

Mr. Hathorn focused on Citizenship and Global Awareness highlighting what the Equity Coordinator, Maggi Ibrahim, has been working on. She has been focused on Black HIstory Month and working with the Hartford Community Coalition to show Race to Be Human after the February break. She meets monthly with the Anti-Racism Inquiry Group. She is working with the BIPOC Family Resource Group and will hold monthly evening meetings via ZOOM.

The board thanked Maggi Ibrahim for her work given all that she’s accomplished in such a short time.

          3. Communication and Support to the Board (Section 1 Policy EL 9)

-        Student Representative Report         

Olivia presented the student report, Sydney was at her hockey game. The one-act drama club will perform in person this week. The band and choir performances are back on schedule with March and spring concerts. The HHS Speech Team placed 2nd at states. Several members placed in their categories. Several members on the HHS indoor track team qualified for the NE Meet. Finding a way to support students who are out sick is an issue as they are not able to engage while they’re out. Keeping up COVID vigilance and enthusiasm is an issue as well. Students have COVID fatigue, they are trying to find ways to bring the student community together. Olivia shared the responsiveness from the HHS community was greatly appreciated, they feel they have been heard. The students appreciate that they are now receiving the COVID update emails and have been provided rapid tests. 

Mr. DeBalsi commented on the communication updates, Infinite Campus group postings were corrected to add the students. 

-      Superintendent Report - COVID Update
o   Progress Related to Concerns - 11-23-2021 C.E. Meeting
Mr. DeBalsi updated the board on the November issues brought up at the Community Engagement meeting. He believes that overall things are improving, daily cases in the buildings have declined over the past two weeks. Behavior issues continue everywhere, but are not quite as drastic. The EL education was put on an immediate pause. Vaccinations are offered regularly at HHS. Some people may need the booster. Clinics will be added as needed. The home rapid tests are available to students/families. The state is talking about doing away with the mask ordinance. The current order expires the week after vacation, write to the governor if you’re concerned. In 2020 there were 190 applications for volunteers, 2021-14 applications, and so far in 2022- 130 applications.

Mrs. Newton shared about Social and Emotional supports, at the elementary level clinicians have been added to support students in need. Filling the positions is difficult, there is an opening for a substance abuse clinician at HHS. 

Mr. DeBalsi shared that there will be a survey soon. The Monday memos to administrators is helpful to get information out quickly on a weekly basis. There will be a new district update out soon, this will be a monthly endeavor. Transportation changes have improved. There have been a couple of paraprofessionals hired as drivers. Inservice days have been wiped clear for teachers to work on their own.

Olivia asked if the state repeals the mask mandate would the district still require masks in the buildings? Mr. DeBalsi replied that he thought the board would need to take action. Mr. North replied that the board has already taken that action. Mr. DeBalsi will look into this. Mr. Christie said the towns could make their own guidelines. Mrs. Russell noted that the Select Board voted last night to continue the town mandate and has to be reviewed in 45 days. Mr. North asked that if the board wants to change it would be important to get  feedback from the staff and others before any changes were made. Mr. Christie suggested that this topic could be addressed at a community engagement meeting. 
          4. Governance Process (Section 4 Policy GP 2)

-        2022-23 Annual Town/School Meeting Updates

Mr. DeBalsi announced that the Community Budget Candidate night will be held February 21, 2022, 7 PM, via ZOOM. The Town and School Meetings will be held on Saturday February 26, 2022, 10 AM. The School portion will begin at 10 AM with the presentation of the Annual Report. Mr. Christie asked if the middle school band and chorus would be presenting. 

Mr. North suggested that the Community Engagement meeting on Wednesday, February 23, 2022, 6PM focus on follow-up questions from the budget presentation meeting. 

The meetings are all on ZOOM, the links are on all notices. 
-        2021-2022 Annual Report Review

Mrs. Newton reviewed the HSD Annual Report. The format has not changed. There is a letter from the board and each school has a summary of happenings. It also includes the usual data, the district data is shared. The annual snapshot with links to the AOE website is there however the normal state testing (SBAC) was not completed. The fiscal information shows revenues and expenditures. The school calendar is included. 

The report is on the website already. The report will be circulated throughout the community when they come back from the printers. 

Mr. Christie reminded the administration that there is funding available at the state to provide for translation services. Mr. Hathorn handles this for the district on a daily basis.


-        Facilities Improvements Committee

Mr. DeBalsi announced another volunteer, Jeff Moreno, would like to be on the committee. He is a resident and fulfills the requirements but is a district administrator. 

Mr. Merrill noted that the committee was established to bring in outside voices, however, there haven’t been many volunteers step forward. He shared his support in Jeff’s participation. 

Mr. North suggested that once the committee is formed, they should gather feedback from the community and then move forward. 

Mr. Hathorn suggested using an engagement meeting (March) to gather information for the facility committee and the district use of ESSER funding. 

Mr. Christie held a straw poll to appoint Jeff Moreno to the Facilities Committee. Board members were in favor.
-        COVID Updates - Nursing Compensation Approval 

Mr. DeBalsi shared with the board that the six nurses are covered by the bargaining agreement with the teachers. They have been working non stop throughout the pandemic. It was suggested by the Labor Management Team that the Extra Curricular salary schedule be followed to compensate them for their extra work. This would be prorated based on the staff/student building numbers. This would be funded through ESSER money. It is an approved expense in the grant.

Mr. Merrill noted our unique times and that this doesn’t set a precedent for the future.

      Mr. North and Mrs. Russell cautioned that this may cause hard feelings as many have gone above and beyond. The board expressed concern for the fairness piece and recognized that many staff members have gone above and beyond.

Mr. DeBalsi replied to the concerns, and stated the nurses were required to complete the extra work so the district could remain open. They often worked late in the evenings and on the weekend. 

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, in recognition of the special burden that the nurses had to bear during the pandemic, I move that the nurses be compensated for this extra work using the formula from the ExtraCurricular Schedule as described earlier using ESSER funds. This is in good faith for their work and sets no precedent moving forward for negotiations. Motion carried 4-1 by voice vote. 
          5.  Public Comments

The public was invited to the Town Hall or to participate using the link https://zoom.us/j/97430755984, meeting ID 974 3075 5984.

There were no public members in attendance.

Mr. Merrill asked the board to recognize Black History Month and that the district recognize the complete history of our country. 

Mr. Christie acknowledged the work the district is doing with the equity work, HCOERI, and what the board is doing. He’s glad the district isn’t dealing with the mascot dilemma that many other districts currently are.  


          6. Board Professional Development (Section 4 Policy GP 9)

Mr. Christie asked for potential professional training topics for the spring.

Mr. DeBalsi said it was on the May 25, 2022 schedule.

Mr. North shared that he watched a VSBA meeting on Open Meeting Law, with focus on participation in Facebook discussions.

Mr. Christie asked Mr. North to send from the meeting to the board. 

Mrs. Russell noted that the VSBA offers monthly training, and they are very informative. 


          7. Consent Agenda (Section 4 Policy GP 4)

-        Meeting Minutes – 1-12-2022, 1-19-2022, 1-26-2022

-        Resignations, Appointments, Retirements
     Resignations Evan Ellerson- HHS, Kandace Culver- MMS, 

David Jopp-MMS

     Appointments- Jeremy Ouellette-HACTC, Fatimah Shabazz -OQS, 

Aron Tomlinson-Director of Adult Ed/CIA

     Retirements- Cathy Newton- SOS, Deb Cabral- WRS, 

Mark Hamilton-HHS, Andrea Morancy- DBS, Margaret Cintorino- HHS
-        Monitoring Reports

GP 1 Global Governance Commitment,

B/SR 1 Global Governance-Management Connection
Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to accept the Consent Agenda with a welcome to the new staff and a thank you to those who are leaving. Motion carried.

          8. Meeting Evaluation

The meeting evaluation was completed by Ms Walther. The meeting was satisfactory. 

Mr. Christie asked Mr. DeBalsi to prepare a letter from the district to Deputy Chief Brad Vail should he accept the new position he was recently offered. He has served the district for the past twelve years in many ways. 


9. Executive Session

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to enter Executive Session at 7:50 PM pursuant to (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 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. Motion carried.

The board came out of Executive Session at 8:54 PM. No action was taken.


          10. Adjournment

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Nancy Russell, to adjourn the meeting at 8:55 PM. Motion carried. 


Respectfully submitted,

Cherrie Torrey



Budget Discussion/Candidates Night Monday, Feb 21, 2022 Fully Remote


Next School Board Meeting is a community engagement meeting on 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022 at 6:00 PM.


Hartford School District Annual Meeting Saturday, February 26, 2022, 10 AM

Annual Town Meeting to follow