March 20, 2023

HSB Minutes 2-8-2023

Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Meeting Minutes

February 8, 2023 @ 6:00 pm

In-Person at Town Hall and Online Meeting 

Members Present: Kevin Christie, Peter Merrill, Nancy Russell, Russell North, Douglas H. Heavisides

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.

Mr. DeBalsi asked to move the Ends Revision up and delete the Monitoring Reports from the Consent Agenda.

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to approve the agenda as modified. Motion carried.

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

Superintendent’s Report
Mr. DeBalsi reported: last week the administrator training with Dr. Mary Gannon was well received, wrapped up teacher and support staff negotiations, winter activities in full swing, winter carnival at HMS soon, HACTC adult ed report- many worthwhile offerings available to the community, starting administrator surveys, February break in a couple weeks

 3.  Governance Process (Section 4 Policy GP 2)

-    FY24 Budget Presentation/The Ends Revisions

Mr. DeBalsi asked Mr. North, Mr. Hathorn, and Dr. Robinson to review the budget presentation that will be shared at the Candidates and Budget Night, February 27th. 

Highlights: 7.9% increase maintains the status quo, it’s an investment, Jacob’s spreadsheet details, details of how the tax rate is calculated, revenues/expenditures, tuition information, personnel costs,health insurance increase, track and step increases, information from the state website highlighting the calculations, past years’ tax rates, CLA, effect of CLA on tax rate, property tax credit- one in four Hartford residents will pay the 7.9% increase, must file for the property tax credit, income level illustrations, property tax credit calculator, provisional teacher licensing (typical year is 5, this year over 25) due to teacher shortages, student population number

Highlights of the year in the schools: Panorama data shows students feel they have supportive relationships, academic data shows at or above state levels, HSD exceeds in having properly licensed teachers, student work samples, personalized education- ACT 77- HHS exceeding, HHS Exhibition Night, The Arts, Athletics

Accountability: revision of the Ends, Universal Goal, timeline of events, reporting system changes, six existing Ends consolidated into three, up for further review, schedule presentation at a community engagement meeting, final revisions, determine the most appropriate measures and strategies for collecting evidence (possible data sources listed), full implementation 2023-24, continue to take feedback

Vermont Portrait of a Graduate shared, used some of this language in the revisions, shows a broad understanding of what students need, helps articulate our clear vision for the district

Mr. Merrill cautioned to consider who the audience is, we’re trying to sell the district. The depth of detail is great but doesn’t have a centralized theme that can serve as a summary of all the great things happening in the schools. He supports having the details available, we’re not trying to hide anything. We will have 35 minutes to share the district information. We will need to edit some out so there is time for questions after the presentation. 

Mr. Christie suggested sharing a link to this version on the district website for anyone to view. He will share this information with the rest of the state with the data. He thanked the team for the presentation information. 

Mr. Heavisides commented, it’s a delicate balancing act, how much they need to hear and understand, this is not a normal year, many sacrifices were given.

Mr. North will continue to revise the presentation. The focus will be on more transparency. 

Dr. Robinson shared the Ends Revision with the board and included it as a link but was not intended to be part of the presentation. Links for people to go to are important.

Mrs. Russell thanked Mr. Hathorn and Dr. Robinson for the information. 

School District Annual Report
Mr. DeBalsi shared an electronic form of the School District portion of the Town Report. This will be posted on the HSD School Board site with six previous years available. The printed copies will be available in a couple of weeks in all the schools. 

Mr. Hathorn highlighted: warrant articles, financial reporting, messages from all the schools, student pictures, student/staff population, The Ends, general information about the district, and some links to the Vermont AOE site.

Mr. Merrill commented on the AOE site which has replaced much local data work, has the site improved? Mr. Hathorn replied yes, some of the information is further cross referenced within the Hartford report. 

2nd HCOREI Charge Renewal Draft for Approval
Mr. North spoke about the proposed rewording but the substance didn’t change much. The board had approved the major amendments in Oct 2022.

Mr. Merrill asked for time to compare the proposed language with the old.

Mr. DeBalsi will ask for an HCOREI member to attend to highlight the changes on March 8th. 

EL 10 Race and Equity Ends Policy Revision Proposal
Mr. DeBalsi shared that Mr. North submitted proposed changes that were well received by the board. 

Mr. Christie noted that all Vermont monies are being reviewed through an equity lens to ensure that all communities and groups are getting what they need. 

Mr. Merrill shared it will be a long process reviewing all the district policies and Mr. North did a great job representing the changes. He suggested doing the actual written changes, send changes out to board members, hold the first reading March 8th, and have the  Policy Committee do a run through of a policy.

Mr. DeBalsi will do a revision showing the original and proposed changes. 

Board Committee Reports and Updates
DEand I, Christie, district group met, AC met, discussion of EL10, why were administrators missing from EL 10?

VSBA, Russell, trainings for governance, busy, lots of issues

HCC, Russell, training, Getting to Why? HMS students presented, HHS scheduled soon, DEA courses/trainings, proactive goal to help, will present to the school board

Negotiations/Support staff, North, tentative agreement reached

Negotiation/Teacher, Merrill, officially agreed to, both parties came to consensus, details in executive session

Finance, Christie, audit and payroll moving smoothly, more opportunity for details

2023-24 School Calendar
Mr. DeBalsi shared the latest draft. This is similar to this year and could be adopted if the board supports it. It is very well aligned with the area sending schools to the collaborative programs. The blue font shows the recognized holidays with a grid on the second page. 

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to approve the 2023-24 calendar. Motion carried. 

 4.  Public Comments  

The public was invited to the meeting in person or online using the link 

Tim Fariel, White River Jct, asked why the public comment period was moved to the middle of the meeting. He stated his appreciation for the great work in the district with great people. He has been researching where Hartford sits in the state with a lot of different statistics. He has shared this with the Select Board. The grand list is the 8th largest in the state. He used the five towns above and below where Hartford is as a peer group. He feels Hartford has grown in the last fifteen years with all the downtown progress and car dealerships. The grand list has gone up but the taxes haven’t gone down. He spoke about his time on the board when the budget went up about one million a year, the increase this year is surprising. The CLA impact and how schools are funded is a monster. We’re getting kind of cheated as taxpayers. He encouraged the school board to work with Montpelier to work on the tax rate and how it impacts the local school funding. 

Mr. Christie responded, this biennium is an opportunity with the turnover in Montpelier, many in the finance committees. 

Mr. Fariel responded about the real estate market. There’s a skewed perspective on property values. There’s a residential hype with people moving in and the commercial properties are in trouble too.

Danielle LeMay, shared real estate information, 25 condos in Quechee have switched and identified as first homes. Some are still renting condos so their kids can go to school here. Restorative practice, presentation from last meeting, comments, talked to relatives in Maine: only works when all are trained. It has some great core values, you can’t leave all the core values of the old disciplinary plan. There has to be some discipline left for the parents. Teachers can’t push their values out to the homes, Saturday example given. You can only do so much but when a child is doing bodily harm on another you have to do something. Many are repeat offenders. Don’t sugar coat it for them. They go on to the high school, there’s more available for the high schoolers. Bring more sports into middle school. It’s not up to the school board or the administration when the police get called. This information was glorified for the power point presentation, but there are lots of other pieces, all need to be trained. The parents and students need to know what the plan is beforehand. There is so much more that needs to be done for safety for kids. We are one of the few states who don’t have metal detectors at school doors. She was contacted by many parents who said their kids are bringing knives to school for protection. Some kids are scared to go to school. You need to worry about the safety of all the kids that the one kid has interactions with. Kids should be in the principal’s office to cool down. Something has to be done to ensure they’re not bringing knives to school, metal detectors, wands, to check students. She begged someone to do something for the safety of all. Kids have to have fun and enjoy school. 

No public from ZOOM.

Mr. Christie responded, the board will continue to get feedback. The presentation at the last meeting was very informative but left some ongoing steps. The board will request more information.

 5. Consent Agenda (Section 4 Policy GP 4)

Meeting Minutes 

Regular Meeting 1-25-2023
 Appointments: Emma Woloshin, WRS Sp Ed

Resignations: Jan DeCosta, WIlder School

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to welcome those joining us, thank you to those leaving, and to approve the Consent Agenda. Motion carried.  

 6. Next Meeting Agenda

HCOREI presentation of proposed changes

Board Hearing (Christie)

First reading EL 10 Race and Equity Ends Policy

future engagement: HCC training information

 7. Meeting Evaluation

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

8. Executive Sessions

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, pursuant to 1 VSA 313(a)(1)(B); 1 VSA 313(a)(7); and 1 VSA 313(a)(1)(A), there is a need to hold an Executive Session for the purpose of  discussing labor relations with employees, discussion of a student record, and discussion of a contract issue.

Motion carried. 

The board entered Executive Session at 7:52 PM.

The board came out of Executive Session at 8:53 PM. No action was taken.


 9. Adjournment

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

Respectfully submitted,

Cherrie Torrey


Monday, February 27, 2023, Budget and Candidates Night, 7 PM

Saturday, March 4, 2023, Annual School District Meeting, 10 AM

Tuesday, March 7, 2023, Australian Ballot Voting, 7 AM- 7PM

Next School Board Meeting is March 8, 2023