May 21, 2024

HSB Minutes 4-26-2023

Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Community Engagement/Regular Meeting Minutes

April 26, 2023 @ 6:00 pm

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

Members Present                                Administrators Present

Kevin Christie                                        Tom DeBalsi

Peter Merrill                                          Roy Hathorn

Nancy Russell                                       Julie Robinson

Russell North

Douglas H. Heavisides

          1.  Call to Order 

-        Changes, Additions and Approval of the Agenda 
The meeting was called to order by Mrs. Russell at 6:00 PM.

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

          2.  Recognition of Outstanding Student Achievement 

Mrs. Russell recognized the following students from the Robotics Team: John Cassell, Lex Johnson, Olivia Daigle, River Maddox, and Jamie Snyder. She asked the students to explain the robotics activity. This year the team placed in the top 200 of the nationwide activity. This is a full engineering experience. They have eight weeks to build their next project.  

Mrs. Russell asked Cassandra to recognize the One Act Play students. Students were recognized at the Regional Festival for Excellence in Acting or Technical Direction: Daniel Beaulieu, Aryn Davis-Raymond, Brookelyn Thibodeau and Michaela Anderson.

Mrs. Russell recognized students who were named on the 2023 Athletic “Let’s Watch List”: Connor TIerney, Joseph Barwood, Ezra Mock, Addison Cadwell, Shannon Hadlock, Ella Perreault, and Joey Beggs.

Mrs. Russell presented Kaelyn Coutemanche, Prevention Champions for her work with the Getting to Why program and the Sticker Shock campaign (identifying alcohol products) in Hartland. She was recently recognized by the Governor at the Statehouse. 


3.  Community Engagement Topics

-        Community Engagement:

Hybrid Meetings: Mr. DeBalsi updated the board that JAM has gone wireless and some updates have been made. The back up plan is to use a telephone call-in system if the audio/video isn’t working. 

Mr. Christie announced that the legislation just passed was for communities to continue with the hybrid as they wish. He noted the number of hits for the meeting three weeks ago. Having flexibility in the meeting format is important. 

Mr. North added that he is concerned that the board isn’t getting the demographics and not getting the interactions with the community. If the technical glitches are taken care of then ok. We may have to think about how we educate the public that the hybrid format is continuing. The board welcomes comments on general items but the meeting isn’t a forum to discuss specific student matters.

Mr. DeBalsi asked the board how he could best promote the hybrid model and how community members could find out.

Mrs. Russell asked if each principal sends out a weekly newsletter. Mr. DeBalsi responded yes, he could put a link for the meetings in those.

Mr. Merrill responded that having the hits to the meetings isn’t the same as having community members in the room interacting with the board. This is a question of democracy and how members engage in their community. He recognises that some are homebound for a variety of reasons. He is aware of each side of the question.

Mr. Christie noted that on March 4th there were 300 plus in attendance and another meeting had over 150. He noted that the Haven expansion presentation brought people in person to the meeting as well as online.

Mr. North asked about using the town’s neon flashing sign to advertise the meetings. He also asked about sending a survey to solicit some ideas for topics to discuss. There could also be a section in the agendas for updates on previous meeting business topics.

Mr. Heavisides commented that there are several people that rely on the projection of the meetings. He further suggested that the board have a moving meeting at each of the schools. He would like an open house an hour before each meeting which would highlight the programs. There is a system to communicate with the parents but what’s lacking is a way to communicate with the public who have no ties to the schools. 

Mr. Christie replied that we could do the engagement meetings at the schools with the PTOs sponsoring something. The board has done the road show, but over time, maybe time to get back to it.

Mr. North added that being in the schools you could highlight student accomplishments with students presenting.

Mr. DeBalsi said, yes the board used to move to the buildings. JAM would have recording difficulties due to equipment needs. Moving the meetings too often can be confusing about where the board will be. He suggested that the engagement meetings be held at the schools but the business meetings be held at the Town Hall.

Also noted was the change in technology, that with all the improvements it would be easy to meet in the schools. 

Mr. DeBalsi noted that after the pandemic he wanted to get all meetings in-person but many of his colleagues want the hybrid model available.

Dr. Robinson added that there are some meetings that having all at the table promotes the best work but understandably hybrid models have a place.

Mr. Hathorn agreed, there could be certain types of activities that a hybrid model works but there may be some types of meetings that it doesn’t work and you just have to let the community know.

Mr. North said that committing to a schedule of locations at the beginning of the year would be important. Accountability and how we’re doing in the schools are areas of concerns, which being in the buildings could promote better attendance.

Mrs. Russell added that parents from different schools might be interested in the other elementary schools and want to attend.

Mr. North shared that the Select Board offers “listening sessions” and this could be a model the board could offer. He noted that it wouldn’t be a time for specific student/personnel situation sharing. This would be with two board members so there’s no actual meeting since there wouldn’t be a quorum. Members would report back to the full board and action or further discussion could be held. 

Mr. Christie used the White River School volunteer reading program where community members come weekly to read with students. This is a program that could be highlighted while having a meeting there.

Long Range Topic Planning: 

Mr. Merrill suggested that the board  report out on the Climate Change Goals from a previous joint endeavor with the town. This should be offered in the hybrid format. This would draw a variety of attendees, community members, students, and others. 

Mr. DeBalsi shared a student is interested in a charging station on the district campus. The student came to see him and had information for this. Charging stations could be added to light poles or a carport style system. 

-        Facilities Update:

Mr. DeBalsi asked Jonathan Garthwaite to share what’s happening in the buildings. Some board members offered comments and questions. There will be a facilities drop down on the district website up and running soon. 

State regulatory initiatives: radon testing was done over April break- no issues in any schools; lead in the water first testing 2020, tap inventories were sent in for testing, Wilder is fine, WRS 11 taps tested above the level, those taps have been shut off and replaced, some HHS taps were shut off, will be changed out and retested, 1800 taps in the district, any identified problem will be fixed, all done electronically now, the other schools’ results are not in yet; PCB, engineering contractor identified, HMS and HHS will be tested over the summer if possible, district is obligated to test, get the data asap; by January 1, 2024 no more fluorescent bulbs in the buildings, inventory take of all the lights in district, funding by Efficiency Vermont,  7600 bulbs, can purchase for under $10, vendor will recycle for no cost, quality of light will be much better, energy savings will be calculated by Efficiency Vermont

Auditorium Needs: VSBIT started their inspections and the new Fire Chief inspected last summer as well, both agreed that if an independent Fire Safety Engineering study was done they would agree to it, stage curtains, lighting not to code, emergency/egress lighting, will move ahead with the highest level of need, parts of the stage need to be repaired, no sprinklers, stage stairs and plywood, some will be repaired this summer, moving in the right direction and documenting as we go

BEST Room Update: minimal asbestos identified (1 day abatement), final RFP out on Monday, architects are done, will be scheduling with demolition to be done in August, finishing around the end of October, Building Trades program may help, has been trimmed back to what has to be done, will come off boiler, will have heat pumps on the roof, minimal decisions left, will be a versatile space and not an identified program space, within budget

Fence at WRS: Green Mtn Power will cut all the pine trees between the playground and the COOP, working with the town to haul limbs away, as soon as school ends trees will be removed, stumps will be removed, Springfield Fence will come in and install an 8’ solid privacy fence, playground chips will be replaced, new grass, noise and view will be blocked, school district should notify the Town Tree Board

Christian Street: met with Pathways, 15 acres, some wet areas, small area suitable for something, could do a curb cut driveway and parking lot, more people interested in using it, pavilion/restroom facility, Pathways will put together a package that identifies the location and impact of whatever is done, plan on everything with the understanding that accommodations might be made, Natural Resources would like to leave some equipment onsite, some ESSER funds earmarked for outdoor learning opportunities for students outside the schools, hay field in the front could be used for student activities, Fish and Wildlife activities, close to schools for easy transportation, is the Vermont Land Trust interested in the property for conservation purposes? charging station, should be presented to the Zoning Board this summer


          4.  Public Engagement

The public was invited to join the meeting in-person or online using, meeting ID 974 3075 5984.

Michelle Boleski asked if the Select Board and the School Board will meet to review the Strategic Plan. Mr. Christie answered that the board had asked for the meeting. Mr. DeBalsi replied that a date before the end of May will be held, each board will share where they’re at with the plan. She suggested that each board might want to revisit the plan since it was written 3 years ago, March 2020. She thinks that the boards are in different places in regards to this and separating the committee might be best. The things that cross over from both boards aren’t happening. She shared that the School Board hasn’t had a consistent representative on HCOREI. She appreciates all that the district has done. It’s tough to have a joint committee. 

Mr. Christie noted he’s pleased with what he’s seeing at the moment. The Select Board is moving forward. The Town Manager search committee is doing good work. It’s all good for the town and is encouraging. 


          5.  Business Meeting Items

Mr. DeBalsi reported: 

- Current School Year Calendar Recommendation

recommending a two hour early release, would give teachers time to meet with Paraprofessionals, lunch would be served 

- Snow Day Make-up, Juneteenth

Two snow days this year, hold school with a celebration?, met with district Equity Committee, student committee felt that having school to honor the holiday is good

- Raynolds Resolution

HCOREI asked for language for a resolution for Ann’s work on behalf of the town, included in the packet, scholarship fund request from the committee and how much money can be raised(North)

Mr. Merrill suggested the board sign the resolution. The board agreed. 

Mr. Christie suggested a state resolution.

- Used Chromebook Disposal

The tech department will purchase 450 new Chromebooks this summer and the 450 2018 Chromebooks will be disposed of. The batteries in the computers are hazardous. Mr. Merrill cautioned that the district would then become the tech support for the new benefactors and that they could potentially be disposed of poorly. Mr. Christie agreed and suggested that the dept wipe them clean and turn them into a recycling company. 

- Multi-Cultural Celebration

will be postponed until the fall for the big celebration when there is an Equity Coordinator

- Board Committee Assignments

The board committee list was shared in the packet. Changes from the last meeting: HACTC Advisory Board- Mr. Heavisides, HCOREI- Mr. North and shared second member, Select Board- shared revolving attendance (ask for common topics be at beginning of each agenda), Community Outreach- Mr. North, Mr. Heavisides


    Consent Agenda

-                  Minutes from 4/5/2023

-                  Appointments: Roy Hathorn, HHS; Rebecca Osborne, MMS; Brystol Rayno, WRS

-                  Resignations: Jeni Frechette, MMS; Cassandra North, HHS; Anne Doton, HHS; Cassandra Lockwood,OQS; Lori Beland, OQS; Morgan Reed, District

-                  End of the Year Dates to Note

Retirement Reception 6/7/2023 @3:30

Graduation - 6/16/2023 @7:00 

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to approve the Consent Agenda, thank you to those leaving and welcoming the new staff members. Motion carried. 


          6.  Next Meeting Agenda

Ann Raynolds Resolution


7.  Adjournment

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to adjourn the meeting at 8:50 PM. Motion carried. 


Respectfully submitted,

Cherrie Torrey 



Next School Board Meeting is May 10, 2023