June 24, 2024

HSB Minutes 3-22-2023

Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Community Engagement Meeting Minutes

March 22, 2023 @ 6:00 pm

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

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

Administrators Present: Tom DeBalsi, Roy Hathorn, Julie Robinson

          1.  Call to Order

-        Changes, Additions and Approval of the Agenda 

Mrs. Russell called the meeting to order at 6:05 PM. 
Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to approve the agenda as presented. Motion carried.

Sara, from the audience, asked to speak about the violence at the middle and elementary schools. Mrs. Russell asked that she hold her comments to the Public Engagement portion.

Mrs. Russell then turned the meeting over to Mr. North, who opened the Community Engagement Portion.


          2.  Community Engagement Topics

Recognition of Outstanding Student Achievement      

Mrs. Russell recognized the attending senior members of the HHS girls’ hockey team:

Sophie Trombley, Captain, top 24 senior forwards in the State, All Star Team MVP;

Sydney Stillman, goalie, All Star team alternate, All Academic team with a 3.5 GPA or higher;

Braelyn Parker, freshman, All State Team, Mother Alana accepted on her behalf.

The remaining recognitions will be given to the girls:

Ada Acka, All Star Team, top 24 senior forwards in the state;

Madelyn Durkee, All Star Team, top 24 forwards in the state, All Academic Team;

Nedra Dwinell, Captain, All Star Team, top 24 forwards in the state; 

Julie McDermid, Captain, All Star Team alternate;

Madison Barwood, All State Honorable Mention;

Grace Hayes, All State Honorable Mention

Mr. North announced that in each of the Engagement Meetings the board will be recognizing student scholars, athletes, and others who have achieved excellence. 

Ends Revisions and Consolidation, Progress Reporting Format and Stakeholder Input

Mr. Hathorn and Dr. Robinson reviewed the timeline of the Ends revision, beginning the Summer 2022 at the Board Retreat. Since then they have revised the reporting process and drafted a new model, six ENDS down to three. They also used the Vermont Portrait of a Graduate as a guideline. The new three Ends are Personal Excellence and Learner, Health and Well-being, and Global Citizenship. These are available on the board tab on the district website. The first ENDS report in December 2022 focused on math, highlights were on the data, evidence collection, areas of growth, and the action steps taken. 

Dr. Robinson posed questions for the community: Does this provide evidence of meeting the ENDS and identify areas for growth; What is working; What is missing; What should the future include?

Mr. DeBalsi announced that the ENDS reporting will include reporting out about the END and not just stating the ENDS. They have been revised to include social justices. They are looking at ways to collect feedback from the community, families, the board with surveys, emails, and meetings with school staff and students. The goal is to reflect on the data, focus on the use of resources, and engage the community. 

Mr. Merrill stated that he believes that they have come up with a great recipe, but it needs to continue with what the cook brings to the table, in order to make a great cake.

Mr. North asked Mr. Hathorn to discuss the Portrait of a Graduate: Learner Agency, Global Citizenship, Academic Proficiency, Well-being, Critical Thinking & Problem Solving, and Communication. The goal at the state level is that each district has the same end goals for students. Individuals use these as a guide to help shape themselves to full potential at graduation.

Mr. North asked if the state was using this as an evaluative tool. 

Mr. Merrill viewed this as a tool to think about what graduates look like, goals, our ENDS help to meet these goals.

Mrs. Russell noted that we do have some leeway and what we want our portrait to look like. Some students aren’t ready to go off to college, what do we think is success for our students?

Dr. Robinson shared this is about students’ ability to reach their full potential and are able to make decisions about that. We don’t want students to have their path predetermined for them but based on their strengths and interests. 

Mr. North cautioned that the schools aren’t where we were prior to COVID. We need to be preparing students for a successful life.

Mr. Merrill shared that the ENDS don’t say all need to go to Harvard, but do what’s best for them, college program or top mechanic. We just need to start doing it, we’ve reached the end of the discussion. 

Mr. DeBalsi said that one of the main questions was about what students are doing after HHS. This data collection on how students are successful will prove that the district is doing a good job. He asked about the December presentation, was it what the board was looking for? The board and the community want more hard data. They will continue to highlight programs or grade level success. 

Mr. North replied yes, it was a good presentation with good information.

Mr. North suggested that the May community engagement meeting define the measurement, continuously developing, how to define success, the system to record this, August retreat present the plan, January 2024 presentation that shows all this in preparation of the budget presentation

Mr. North asked if there was anyone from the public wishing to speak on the ENDS topic, other public comments will be shared later.

Sara, an audience member, asked about the recipe. She was unable to continue since the board could not hear her. He invited her to the April 5th meeting.

Mr. DeBalsi will reach out to Sara and further her concerns to the board. 

Mr. North suggested surveying the teachers first since their buy in is crucial. 

Mr. DeBalsi said the first report will be on well-being since that has been the focus this year, possibly May or June. 


          3.  Public Engagement 

The public was invited to the meeting in-person or online using https://zoom.us/j/97430755984, meeting ID 974 3075 5984.

Mr. Merrill asked that this be skipped tonight since there are technical difficulties. Any person may attend the meeting on April 5, 2023.

Mr. DeBalsi cautioned that at the past few meetings there have been some damaging public comments made. Not all comments are appropriate during school board meetings. When someone has a concern or complaint it needs to be addressed at the building level first. There is a proper protocol for this. Mr. DeBalsi is the next on the list, and then as appropriate it may come to the school board. 

Mr. Merrill asked that we investigate with the town as to what the technical difficulties are. What needs to be done? Any person may attend an open meeting. When you speak in front of us, we hear you.

Mr. North agreed, and also that we need to come up with a contingency plan to avoid this in the future. 

Mr. DeBalsi reminded the board that there is a speaker phone that has been used in the past, with people calling in to share their comments. 

          4.  Business Item 

Approval of Hartford Administrators’ Contract

Mr. DeBalsi reported that the final draft of the contract has not been completed but that negotiations are complete and the tagreed to items have been settled.

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell,  to approve, subject to final documentation, the agreement that has been reached with the administrators. Motion carried, with Mr. Douglas H. Heavidieds abstaining.

Moved by Mrs. Russell, seconded by Mr. Douglas H. Heavisides, to move the April meeting up one week to avoid the conflict of spring break. Motion carried. 


5. Adjournment

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell to adjourn the meeting at 7:05 PM. Motion carried. 


Respectfully submitted, 

Cherrie Torrey 




Next Regular School Board Meeting is April 5, 2023 6:00 PM 

                                                   Hartford Town Hall