March 20, 2023

Draft HSB Minutes 3-8-2023

Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Meeting Minutes

March 8, 2023 @ 5:00 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


          1.  Call to Order 

-        Changes, Additions and Approval of Agenda 

Mr. DeBalsi called the Reorganizational Meeting of the board to order at 5:00 PM. He conducted the oath and the Board Chair election.

Mr. Christie took over the meeting at 5:10 PM. He added a brief discussion of recognition of student athletes to the agenda.

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


          2.  Reorganization of the Board 

-        Oath of Office for Newly Elected Board Directors
Mr. Christie and Mr. Heavisides took the Vermont Oath of Allegiance and the Vermont Oath of Office of School Director. Town Clerk, Lisa O’Neil was present to notarize the oaths. She kept the original copies for the Town Clerk's Office.

Mr. Merrill, Mr. North, and Mrs. Russell reaffirmed their oaths. 

Mr. North announced that his house is for sale and when/if it sells he will be moving out of the district therefore will not accept any board position. 
-        Nominations for Board Chair
Mr. Merrill nominated, Mr. North seconded, Mr. Christie for board chair. Motion carried. 
-        Nominations for Board Clerk
Mr. Merrill nominated, Mr. Heavisides seconded, Mrs. Russell for board clerk. Motion carried.
          3.  Executive Session for the purpose of discussing a grievance 

1 VSA 313(a)(1)(D)

Mr. Christie announced that the grievance hearing would include the grievant and any witnesses would be called in when appropriate.

The board’s attorney clarified who the grievant was, the HEA brought the grievance forward.

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, it is necessary to have an Executive Session for the purpose of discussing a grievance pursuant to 1 VSA 313 (a)(1)(D). Motion carried. 

The board went into Executive Session at 5:14 PM.

The board came out of Executive Session at 6:25 PM.

No action was taken. 


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

-        Superintendent’s Report
Mr. DeBalsi reported: elementary inservice March 7th for related arts- high level instructional practices; math and language arts- equity centered choices; some administrators and teachers with Julie are going to Windsor Locks, CT to observe EL classes; HHS finished up athletic seasons; HHS signing up for next year’s classes; HHS 10th graders took the PSAT; HHS 11th graders take SAT on March 27th; nice to have inservice on voting day for parking ease

Mr. Christie said it’s nice to have the inservice day on voting day for parking and traffic safety. 

Mr. Merrill asked the tech to turn down the sound of Mr. DeBalsi’s mic to avoid the echo.

Mrs. Russell commented on the HPD making a visit during the election polls. She commented that it was nice to have their presence. It was a very casual visit. 

          5.  Governance Process (Section 4 Policy GP 2)

-      2nd HCOREI Charge Renewal Draft 
Sarah Campbell, chair of HCOREI, also a parent of two students highlighted the changes in the draft document. The current document will expire on April 2, 2023. The purpose includes their goals of supporting the town and the school district. The charge includes clarity of language items. The terms section includes term limits and that the document will come before the boards but not expire. 

Mr. Merrill noted the board GP7, rule #5, committee work. He doesn't feel the HCOREI new language is a conflict.

Mrs. Russell asked if it was time for HCOREI to become their own entity because the original charge was met. She doesn’t remember giving the committee a new charge. Ms. Campbell replied that the committee has refined the language. They would continue what they are doing and wouldn’t need to report back to the board. Ms Campbell replied that the connection to the town/school gives them some level of importance. They would love to stay a standing committee.

Mr. North stated that it is difficult to stand for both the town and school. The role of recommendations vs enforcement is in question. Ms Campbell responded that they feel the role with the school board is important. 

Mrs. Russell compared Hartford Community Coalition to HCOREI. HCC is its own entity now. 

Mr. Merrill asked if HCOREI is a governmental or a civic function. There has always been an issue with this committee representing the town and school. He thinks there’s still a purpose of having HCOREI be a governmental body.

Joe Major, WRJct, stated that one other reason for HCOREI to exist is for support. He offered the committee’s help. Both entities have been trying to work more closely together. The equity trainings with Mary Gannon have been productive and HCOREI can help in continuing that. The support of HCOREI will help to bring the town and school together. 

Ms Campbell asked if their charge will be renewed by the school board. 

Mr. North stated he would support renewing, understanding that they will evolve as needed.

Mr. Major agreed that the committee has to continue to evolve to meet the needs of the community. 

Mr. Merrill commented on the relationship of the school board and HCOREI; it has been strained at times, probably due to the issues at hand. He spoke in favor of continuing working with the committee because of the importance of the work to the district. 

Mr. DeBalsi said that having the committee supported by the school board and select board, as an officially charged group, brings a higher level of importance to the committee. 

Ms Campbell shared that many other communities have visited committee meetings to see how it’s being done in Hartford.

Michelle Boleski, WRJct, thanked Joe and Sarah for their service. She sees that the town and school are not working together, it’s a source of frustration for her. Because the town and school are different governing bodies the committee needs to hear from both. She recalled two joint meetings in the past, one for recreation discussions and one for the Strategic Plan presentation. She welcomed attendance, stated her frustration at the lack of progress, and a review would be important. She asked for support for the committee and the people who have worked on this so far. 

Mr. DeBalsi stated that the district refers to the Strategic Plan often. The equity planning committee works with Dr. Gannon.

Mr. Christie noted that he shared yesterday with some select board members that the two bodies used to have joint meetings at least twice a year. He used the duplex house model, let’s set down for dinner across the hall. We need to discuss HCOREI and the Strategic Plan. 

Mr. North noted the next EL10 report could address this. 

Moved by Mrs. Russell, seconded by Mr. Merrill, to accept the revised HCOREI charge as drafted. Motion carried. 

Mr. DeBalsi noted that Ann Raynolds passed away, at 95, full of energy. She did a lot of good work and worked hard for the students. Her history is absolutely amazing. Ms Campbell said the committee is looking for a way to honor her. They will be discussing this at their next meeting.

Mr. Merrill thanked Mrs. Russell for starting a very good necessary conversation.
-        Town/School Meeting Results
Mr. DeBalsi noted that both sets of results are in the board packet tonight. They will be posted on the district website tonight. He welcomed the new board member and the returning member. The budget passed.

Mr. North thanked the community for supporting the budget. 
-        Approval of Collective Bargaining Agreements with Teachers and Support Staff
Mr. DeBalsi noted that the completed negotiated contracts do not have completed language copies. 

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to ratify the teachers’ agreement as negotiated. Motion carried with Mr. North and Mrs. Russell abstaining. 

Moved by Mr. North, seconded by Mr. Merrill,  to approve the Support Staff contract as negotiated. Motion carried.  

Mr. Merrill and Mr. North thanked the committees for their great work. Both teams were pleasant to work with.
-        EL 10 Race and Equity Ends Policy Revisions - 1st Read
Mr. DeBalsi stated that he took the comments from board members and incorporated them into the policy.

Mr. Hathorn added that this moves the district in the right direction. 

Mr. Merrill added his complements to the team.
-        Board Committee Reports and Updates
Mr. DeBalsi said he will bring a list of committees for the next meeting. 

HCC, Russell, Emily and Kelly have completed training for adults who work with youth mental health. Mrs. Russell and Kelly have been trained as a mental health first aider. They will be offering these training sessions. 

Manifests, Christie, going on timely manner, treasurer and Christie

EDI, Christie, description for Maggi’s replacement, job posted variety of places, about ten applicants, notice out for search committee volunteers, two parts of her job were filled with staff 
-    Student Recognition
Mrs. Russell shared that all six seniors of the HHS GIrls Hockey team were selected for the All State and All Star games. A freshman was also selected to represent Hartford. Two girls will be alternates. She proposed inviting the girls, the coaches, and their parents into the next meeting. She would like to include other students and athletes who have received awards to be honored at future community engagement meetings. This shows that we are proud of our students.

Mr. North agreed, this would be a way to show what’s happening in the schools. It could promote an upcoming event, ie the musical, a concert. It would be a great start at the community engagement meetings. This could be transitioned to the regular board meetings, it would promote attendance.

Mr. DeBalsi cautioned the board that he gets a lot of criticism for celebrating only athletes. He welcomed celebrating students of all ages. He suggested developing a form to be filled out so he can inform the board. 

Mrs. Russell received permission to invite the six hockey players to the next meeting.

          6.  Public Comments

The public was invited to the meeting in person at the Hartford Town Hall or online using

Michelle Boleski, WRJct, community engagement meetings- a great idea to bring in students; need to hire someone to communicate to the public what’s happening as she’s only hearing negative comments; how is reporting racism different between the levels of students; would like to see a report on what has been implemented from the Strategic Plan with future direction; question about equitable assignments for board members- some committees take more time- expectation should be evenly placed across the board; COVELL house- need for housing ridiculous, could this be changed into possible units for staff; town is looking to get a communication director, what is the school doing, the communication piece needs work

Mr. DeBalsi replied that as far as racist incidents, the district uses restorative practice based on age appropriateness. 

The board thanked Ms Boleski for her comments. Mr. Christie said the Strategic Plan will be part of future Superintendent’s Reports.


          7. Consent Agenda (Section 4 Policy GP 4)

Meeting Minutes 

-        Regular Meeting 2-8-2023

-        Budget Discussion/Candidates Night 2-27-2023

-        Annual Town Meeting 3-4-2023
          Appointments: Richard Campanaro, Literacy Integrationist HACTC
Resignations: Tara MacCallum, DBS, 1 year LOA; Kyra Johnston, MMS; 

Julia Pinkava, WRS; Roy Hathorn, District (to return to the classroom); Jack Peisch, MMS
          Monitoring Reports
-        GP 6 - Board Members Code of Conduct

-        EL 3 - Relationship with Staff  

Mr. Merrill asked to remove EL 3 for now, given the earlier discussion.
Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell to approve the Consent Agenda, with thanks for those who are leaving and a welcome to the new staff member. Motion carried. 
          8. Next Meeting (3/22/2023) Engagement Meeting Topic 

Student Recognition - Mrs. Russell

April Schedule- joint meeting with the Select Board- Mr. Christie 


          9. Meeting Evaluation

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


10. Executive Session/s will be needed for the purpose of discussing labor relations with employees V.S.A. 313(a)(1)(B)

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded Mr. North, there is a need to enter into Executive Session pursuant to 1 VSA 313 (a)(1)(B) for the purpose of discussing labor relations with employees.

The board entered Executive Session at 7:53 PM.

The board came out of Executive Session at 8:07. No action was taken. 


          11. Adjournment

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to adjourn at 8:08. Motion carried. 


Respectfully submitted, 

Cherrie Torrey



Next School Board Meeting is March 22, 2023