December 3, 2023

HSB Minutes 9-14-2022

Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Meeting Minutes

September 14, 2022 @ 6:00 pm

In-Person at Town Hall and Online Meeting  

Members Present: Kevin Christie, Peter Merrill, Russell North, Havah Armstrong Walther

Administrators Present: Tom DeBalsi, Roy Hathorn, Julie Robinson

 1.  Call to Order 

Changes, Additions and Approval of Agenda 
Mr. Christie called the meeting to order at 6:00 PM.

There were no changes to the agenda. 

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to accept the agenda as submitted. Motion carried.

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

Student Representative Report
 Mr. Hathorn shared Sydney’s student report: students are happy with their classes and are bonding with faculty; musical cast set for Footloose; sports going well; students without masks are happy; clubs are starting up again with some new clubs; she applauded administrators who got the year off to a good start; ability to access mental health support important

Superintendent’s Report
 Mr. DeBalsi reported: school open 2 weeks; inservice time 4 days with some training; about 40 new staff members; opened the year normally with the whole staff gathering to recognise longevity and staff of the year; 3 days with returning staff and then a Monday with students starting on a Tuesday for a smoother transition; 1811 students enrolled; increases at WRS, HACTC way up 326 students, HHS up to 551; almost fully staff with shortages in spec ed teachers, custodians, and bus drivers; kids and staff happy with no masks; first days had bus delays, met with bus people, next week should be better; bus accident most unfortunate; Mr. Christie and Mr. DeBalsi will draft a letter to the community to hopefully recruit new bus drivers; almost 50 people signed up to do the book study

 Mr. Merrill asked about the bus accident and if there was anything to do to reduce the risk of it happening again. He asked for a study of what happened. Mr. DeBalsi has to complete his own investigation in addition to the bus company’s investigation. He will share the report with the board when complete. More details will be provided during the Executive Session.

 Ms Walther will reach out to Mr. DeBalsi about a potential bus issue. 

 Mr. DeBalsi introduced Dr. Julie Robinson to the community; she is the Elementary Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment.

 3.  Governance Process (Section 4 Policy GP 2)

Board Summer Retreat Outcomes 
Mr. DeBalsi shared a slide show highlighting the discussion at the board retreat. The Ends were developed in 2008 and haven't changed since. There will be a focus on two Ends in a given year. This year the focus will be on Academic Excellence and Health and Well-Being. These two ends support each other. Evidence of the work will be reported out in November, February, and May/June. A variety of data sources were shared, ie testing scores, student projects, Panorama surveys. New data sources may be identified by the administrators as well. Several ideas were shared about potential data sources and using the data we currently collect differently. Additional resources may be needed. Consolidating some of the Ends may be needed: Academic Excellence, combine Life Skills with Health and Well-Being, combine Citizenship with Global Awareness, and integrate Technology throughout.

Student Representative Review and Process
 Mr. Hathorn shared highlights from the Vermont School Boards Association recommendations. These seemed to align with Dylan’s review from a few years ago, some of which are in place already: two representatives, one junior and one senior; a job application; a dedicated student report form; some version of a meeting with administration to review information. Thank you to Dylan for his review and presentation of the model. Benefits to the position include possible SS credit, community service time, resume listing, and the opportunity to have a direct impact on the schools. New student reps would be given an initial training session.

 Mr. North asked about the advisory “vote” and offering a board mentor to the student rep. 

 Mr. Merrill shared feedback from Olivia: she wished there had been more training for the student and a discussion of where the boundaries are. He’s not sure about the voting right.

 Mr. Christie suggested working on a partnership with CCV to develop a course on policy. This could be available to any student rep on any school board in the state. Mr. Christie asked to keep an eye out for the state council information. 

HCOREI Charge Change
 Mr. DeBalsi reviewed the proposed changes from their initial change request in June. 

 Mr. Merrill stated concerns about the student liaisons as voting members. 

 Mr. Christie agreed for the same reasons for student safety but additional research could be done. 

 Mr. North cautioned about student safety, but is still in favor.

 Ms Walther also noted pressures put on young people but it’s empowering for young people to have their voices heard. 

 Mr. Merrill asked to defer this until the next meeting when all members could be present so a potential tie would be avoided. 

 Mr. DeBalsi also brought up the stressors of work done before a meeting, lobbying for a position. 

Policy Adoption – 1st Read – Selection of Library Materials 
 Mr. DeBalsi and Mr. Merrill presented the policy to the board. The librarians brought this to the policy committee last spring. There has been a lengthy review. The librarians wish to have a policy that would guide them should the issue come up to avoid making a decision in the moment. 

 Mr. North asked for a wording change on page 4, “discriminate users”, possibly critical users. Policy statement #7:timing, business days? #8: retaining or removal? Citizens requests for reconsideration of materials (process and procedure?)

 Mr. Merrill will incorporate the changes in the policy for the next reading. 

State Required Policies – Capitalization of Assets, Conflict of Interest
Mr. Merrill noted that there were two comments about policies from the last audit. Since they were brought up during the audit they will become policy language and not procedure that Mr. DeBalsi completes.

Mr. North offered comments about the policies and wording, fine with both.

The Conflict of Interest Policy is to ensure total transparency. 

Mr. DeBalsi will review and bring back for next meeting.

Town/School Meeting Committee – School Board Designee Question
 Mr. DeBalsi told the board that Ryan Scelza has moved out of town. The charter language does not prevent this, the board should decide if he should continue on the committee. He would not be able to work at the polls because of his residency. 
 Mr. North and Mr. Christie spoke in favor of having Mr. Scelza continue on the committee, HHS alum, dedicated to Hartford. 

 Mr. Merrill would prefer that committee members be town residents. 

 Moved by Mr. North, seconded by Ms Walther,  to allow Ryan Scelza to continue on the Town/School Meeting Committee even though he’s not a resident. Motion carried, 3-1.

Board Committee Reports and Updates
HCOREI- North, discussed procedural matters of the Select Board, will discuss the School Board work next meeting
Facilities- North, grouping facility work, prioritization of projects
RAB- DeBalsi, enrollment up to 329 students, new program- Cyber Security, a retiree came back to Building Trades, HHS teacher took over STEM class, calendar aligned with other schools, student equity group- JEDI, summer tech camp 100 students, new attendance policy, safety audit with VOSHA, new direction of adult ed- Aron Tomlinson, working hard to recruit non-traditional students into some programs, two students presented their Chicago trip to the National competition, next meeting Nov 8th
Mr. Merrill is interested in continuing as this rep. 

Policy- Merrill, reviewed above policies, will be reviewing more soon
Finance- North, met with Jacob to review tax information for the upcoming engagement meeting, will review additional staffing and from what funding source
Christie- building information, staffing, enrollment, expenses

HCC- North, (Russell)- reminder of what the committee is and does, services and trainings
Mr. North suggested working with HCC on the Ends updates. 

 4.  Public Comments  

The public was invited to the meeting in person at the town hall or online using

Mr. Hathorn reported there were no hands up. 

 5. Consent Agenda (Section 4 Policy GP 4)

Meeting Minutes 

Regular Meeting 6-22-2022
Mr. North questioned; called to order at 6 PM, resumed at 7:04??? Correct, due to technical problems with Zoom. The minutes should read, the board continued their discussion but no action was taken. 
Board Retreat 8-24-2022
 Appointments: Jennifer Walstrum, Special Educator, Wilder School

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to approve the Consent Agenda as corrected. Motion carried. 

 6. Next Meeting Agenda

  HCOREI Charge Change (student reps voting or not voting)

  Financial information at next engagement meeting

 Second Reading of the Policies

 7. Meeting Evaluation

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

8. Adjournment

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to adjourn at 8:20 PM. Motion carried. 

Respectfully submitted,

Cherrie Torrey


School Board Engagement Meeting 

 Wednesday, September 28, 2022 at 6:00 PM