May 21, 2024

HSB Minutes 4-5-2023

Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Meeting Minutes

April 5, 2023 @ 6:00 pm

In-Person at Town Hall and Online Meeting  


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

Administrators Present: Tom DeBalsi, Roy Hathorn


          1.  Call to Order 

-        Changes, Additions and Approval of Agenda

Mrs. Russell called the meeting to order at 6:01 PM.

Mr. DeBalsi said no Executive Session was needed.

Mr. Christie joined the meeting via zoom.

Moved by Mr. North, seconded by Mr. Heavisides, to approve the agenda as amended.

Moved by Mr. North, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to adjust the agenda to invite the attendees to speak. The public comment at 7:30 would be honored as well. Motion carried.


          2. Recognition of Outstanding Student Achievement 

-        Varsity Boys Ice Hockey Team members who made the All League team

Mrs. Russell recognized Ezra Mock, Lochlan Park, James McReynolds, Connor Tierney, Blaine Gour, Joseph Barwood, and Ozzie DeFelice who were named to the All League Vermont team.

-        Varsity Boys Basketball Team members who made the All League team

Mrs. Russell recognized Braydan Trombley, Christian Hathorn, Brody Tyburski, and Brady Olmstead who were named to the All League Vermont Team.


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

-        Superintendent’s Report
Mr. DeBalsi reported that the training of staff for the state assessment is happening, the three week testing window begins after vacation. Spring sports have begun. The students have arrived safely in Morocco. The HMS musical is Suessical. The district joined the Juul lawsuit, and a $28,000 settlement has been awarded. Contracts are due back from teachers on April 15th, in the midst of hiring, teachers and administrators. Anti-bias training is happening with all the search committees. 40 days of school left, next week is vacation. 

Mr. Hathorn spoke about a conference that Dr. Robinson is presenting at, she will report on that. HHS scheduling is highlighting flexible pathways, students are picking their eight classes which drives the courses that will be offered.

          4.  Governance Process (Section 4 Policy GP 2)

-        EL 10 Race and Equity Ends Policy Revisions - 2nd Read
Mr. DeBalsi shared draft 2 with changes highlighted. Board members agreed with the revision. If the board approves it tonight it will be posted on the website.

Moved by Mr. North, seconded by Mrs. Russell,  to approve the policy as presented with the changes that were previously discussed. Motion carried.
-        Hybrid Meetings
Mr. DeBalsi reported that the last meeting had some technical difficulties. The board asked if they needed to continue the hybrid meetings.

Mrs. Russell researched from the VSBA and reported that it is no longer required to have hybrid meetings unless the board wants to continue until June 2024.

Mr. North stated that when it works it’s great, but when it doesn’t work it’s difficult. If it meets our goal of improving communication with the community then we should continue.

Mr. Christie shared the reason behind extending it in Montpelier,  to get people from all over the state to participate. He asked Mr. DeBalsi to speak with the JAM representatives, what does the future look like? 

Mr. DeBalsi responded, he met with the Director and Chico about the technical difficulties. They shared that the equipment in the Town Hall is old and outdated. They would like to update some equipment. Chico made adjustments in the room for tonight’s meeting. He also talked about the BEST room at HACTC and suggested the board might meet there. Chico and the new staff members are working on delivering the meeting without difficulties. 

Mr. North asked to discuss a long term plan, possibly meet with the Select Board, to come up with a way to improve the system. He would like the hybrid model to continue and possibly use that as a topic for community engagement. He volunteered to attend a Select Board meeting to discuss a joint meeting with them. 

Mr. DeBalsi suggested he meet with the acting Town Manager to discuss solutions.

Mr. Christie asked about a joint community engagement meeting with the Select Board. He would like to send a formal invitation after Mr. North attends and speaks in public session at the meeting. 
-        Public Comment Structure Discussion
Mr. DeBalsi shared a document “How to raise issues, voice concerns, and make change” that the board had adopted previously. It outlines the proper chain of what steps should be taken. This flowchart explains who to talk to and in what order.

Mr. Christie asked that this be posted on the website and also to share this at the beginning of public comment for the next few meetings. This would allow a clearer access for the public, it helps both parties.

Mr. DeBalsi said sometimes not following the proper chain makes the issue longer before resolution. When the concern is dealt with at the lowest level it could be resolved much faster. He gave the example of the parent presentation tonight about the stage floor, had it come from the building principal, he could have moved it on to the board sooner. 

Mrs. Russell asked if this information, including the flowchart, could be included in the parent handbook. Mr. DeBalsi responded, yes, and the names and contact information could be personalized for each building.

Mr. North noted that the benefit of this protocol isn’t included, but a letter from the board to include reasons for this would be important.

Mr. DeBalsi shared some examples of when community members might come to a board meeting: a follow up from a previous meeting or a topic they want the board to explore. This is not intended to limit public comment, but just redirect at the proper level. If it’s a legal matter then the board 
-        HCOREI Appointment
Sara Campbell, would like to be renominated as a representative. 

Moved by Mr. North, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to reappoint Sara Campbell to the HCOREI Committee. Motion carried. 
-        Board Calendar - Summer Retreat Date and Topic, Ends Reporting
Mr. DeBalsi asked the board to consider dates, topics, and changes to the Ends reporting. 

Mr. North asked for a recap of the Ends at the May meeting. It would allow for time to plan for the retreat and any other work plan items.

Mr. DeBalsi said at the April 26th meeting there would be an annual review of the Ends. He asked what the board would like for the fall. He suggested mapping out the board calendar to allow for administrative planning.
-        Joint Meeting with the Select Board 
See comments above
-        Board Committee Assignments, Reports and Updates
Mr. DeBalsi shared an updated committee assignment list:

Facility and Planning, North, Heavisides; Charter Commission, Russell;

VSBIT/VEHI Annual Meeting, North; HCOREI, North, TBD;

Select Board, North; HACTC Advisory, Merrill; Policy, Merrill; 

Finance, Christie, North; Negotiations, Christie, North, Merrill; 
HCC, Russell; VSBA, Russell; Community Outreach, North; 

Manifest Approval, Christie; District Equity, Christie
Mr. DeBalsi will contact Mr. Merrill about his interests in committee assignments. 

The committee list will be finalized at the next meeting. 
          5.  Public Comments  

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

Angela, parent of a first year student, asked the school board to purchase a new floor for the high school stage. The condition of the floor continues to deteriorate. It is held together with tape and easily chips on the surface. She shared many hazards, safety of students and props. The stage is used for daily class and advisory as well as many special projects. The parent group received an estimate of $35,000 in 2022.

Molly Fournier Stevens, production manager, spoke in favor of the new floor. She gave many examples of positive happenings on the stage and other mishaps. A new stage is needed to move the program forward.

Madison Richardson, freshman performer, spoke in favor of a new floor. She has been injured many times on the stage, once as a sixth grader. The group of students present tonight is a small representative of the performing arts community. We must ensure the safety at HHS and continue to foster the performing arts.

Mr. Christie reminded the group of the boards’ process when taking public comment. He suggested that the Facility Committee meet with the superintendent and bring back a recommendation to the next meeting. 

Mr. North stated he may have a conflict of interest but would support the timeline of the suggestion. He thanked the attendees for speaking.

Mr. DeBalsi shared that the Maintenance Director had looked at the floor. He would contact him tomorrow for any updated information.

Michelle Boleski spoke about the HCOREI meeting she just attended. She asked if the board had asked the Select Board for a joint meeting. She will attend both meetings to bug them. Mr. North shared that he will attend the first meeting after April 18th to invite the Select Board to meet. She thanked that board for letting her share.

Mr. DeBalsi reminded the board that they did meet with the Select Board twice during Covid.

No other community members were present.


          6. Consent Agenda (Section 4 Policy GP 4)

Meeting Minutes 

-        Regular Meeting 3-8-2023

-        Engagement Meeting 3-22-2023

Leah MacDonald, District; Shell Wallace, HHS; Michael Ferrante, HHS; 

Rebecca Fors, MMS; Gabrielle Bradley, MMS; Carley Malloy, MMS; 

Karli Swenson, MMS; Julia Anderson, OQS; Kari Amick, OQS; Amy Proctor, DBS; Nickolas Lauritzen, DBS; Ami Beaudoin, DBS; Kimberly Mitchell, DBS; Jennifer Wallstrom, Wilder


Amy Fowler, DBS; Brittany Holmes, Wilder; Shane Quintana, HHS; 

Kellinan Germann, WRS; Sarah Hardy, MMS; Rebecca Jufford, WRS 

Monitoring Reports
-        EL 2 - Relationship with Students, Parents and Community  
Mr. North suggested that the EL2 policy needs to be reviewed and could be a community engagement meeting topic. 

Moved by Mrs. Russell, seconded by Mr. North to accept the Consent Agenda as presented. Motion carried.
          7. Next Meeting (4/26/2023) is an Engagement Meeting Topic

Hybrid meetings

Select Board joint meeting (community engagement)

“How to raise issues, voice concerns, and make change?” 

Policy reviews

          8. Meeting Evaluation

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


          9. Adjournment

Moved by Mrs. Russell, seconded by Mr. North, to adjourn at 7:58 PM. Motion carried.


Respectfully submitted,

Cherrie Torrey



Next School Board Meeting is April 26, 2023