March 1, 2024

HSB Minutes 5-10-2023

Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Meeting Minutes

May 10, 2023 @ 6:00 pm

In-Person at Town Hall and Online Meeting 


Members Present                                Administrators Present

Nancy Russell                                       Tom DeBalsi

Peter Merrill                                          Roy Hathorn

Russell North

Douglas H. Heavisides


          1.  Call to Order 

-        Changes, Additions and Approval of Agenda

The meeting was called to order by Mrs. Russell at 6:02 PM.

Mr. DeBalsi said there were no changes to the agenda.

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


          2. Recognition of Outstanding Student Achievement 

Mrs. Russell announced that the students will attend the next board meeting. 


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

Mr. DeBalsi reported on the hiring season for teachers and administrators, many positions are filled. The Equity Director faculty engagement forums will be held tomorrow. The replacement for Roy was finalized this week after a long session, fourteen applicants, down to four, then three finalists. The MMS musical is this week. AP tests are this week. The Equity Committee is planning for the Juneteenth day. The last Panorama screening is beginning this week. The state test, Cognia, has had a difficult roll-out, with training and testing. Thank you to the staff and administrators who have helped get this done.

Mr. North asked Mr. DeBalsi about the school districts under monitoring for special education from the state. He responded that the district isn’t being monitored.


          4.  Governance Process (Section 4 Policy GP 2)

-        Ann Raynolds Resolution
Mr. DeBalsi recognized Ann Raynolds for her dedication to the town and school. This will go into the record at the Town Office. 

Mr. Merrill presented the resolution:
WHEREAS,           Ann Raynolds has served on the Hartford Committee on Racial Equity and Inclusion and;


WHEREAS,           her unique knowledge of both public schools and town government has enabled her to serve the Town of Hartford and the Hartford School District with vision and effectiveness, and;


WHEREAS,           her work on behalf of the School District, having gone far beyond that which might be expected, has demonstrated competence, sensitivity, honesty and dedicated civic concern;


NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Citizens of the Town of Hartford, that Ann Raynolds be given a vote of sincere appreciation for her 5 years of service, and furthermore, that this resolution be recorded in the Town Records, dated this 10th day of May, 2023.

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to approve the resolution for Ann Raynolds. Motion carried. Mr. DeBalsi will get a formal copy for the board to sign and will give a framed copy to the family. 

-        2023-24 Board Work Plan
Mr. DeBalsi presented a draft plan of the board work for next year. He asked the board to consider the engagement topics. 

Mr. North suggested that the January 24, 2024 meeting be dedicated to the budget presentation, explanation, and discussion. Additionally he suggested the special education and collaborative funding be presented as well. 

Mr. Merrill asked for a date for the climate change resolution discussion. He suggested that this be held at a joint meeting since it was a joint resolution. 

Mr. DeBalsi noted that there are times when this could impact the direction of the district with facilities. 

Mrs. Russell asked that an early engagement meeting be about the boards’ role, what we can do and what we can’t do. This would include how the board governs. 

Mr. North asked why there is no engagement meeting in September. There can be one added. Mr. DeBalsi replied that in the past there have been two business meetings and no engagement.

Mrs. Russell announced that she would like to present what a board member is required to do. She asked if the Town Clerk could provide a handout to any potential candidate. This would allow the candidate to be better informed about the position. She has been working on this document with the VSBA. Mr. North suggested the November engagement meeting for this topic. 

-        Summer Retreat Date and Topic
Mr. DeBalsi asked the board to consider dates and topics for the retreat. 

Mr. Merrill suggested August is a good time. He recapped the past topics but suggested that an outside expert on how boards work is always good, but may not be pressing at the moment. 

Mr. North suggested a discussion about the limitations of the open meeting law. He also suggested testing and data and what goes on in the schools. 

Mr. Merrill asked about discussing the relationship with the Agency of Education and how their decisions impact what the district has to do. 

Mrs. Russell shared that the VSBA hired a private individual to send out a survey to all VSBA board members. The consultant then reviewed the results with them. This provided some interesting information. Mr. Merrill suggested a variation of this might work, but the size of the board would impact the anonymity of the survey. He stated that the board has been able to work with people with different views, been respectful and able to work to consensus. Mr. North agreed that this would be important, having this information would impact the support from fellow members. 
-        Joint Meeting with the Select Board 
Mr. DeBalsi announced a joint meeting with Mary Gannon facilitating a DEI discussion could be held on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. A group will meet on Friday to develop the agenda. Mr. North suggested scheduling a second meeting to discuss common business items. Setting up ground rules for committee meetings would be helpful. Mr. Merrill noted that a discussion should be held after the Town Manager has been hired. Mr. North suggested a meeting in November would be helpful to get both boards on the same page with the budget process. 


-        Board Committee Assignments, Reports and Updates
Mr. DeBalsi asked the board to review the final assignments on the board committee list.

HACTC Advisory, Heavisides, attended the meeting yesterday, he met with two HHS seniors who presented what they had done during their two years, very impressed with the articulate young adults. Both students presented their portfolios with outstanding work and are ready to go out into the world. This shows that Hartford has tremendous programs and they are not publicized enough. Mr. Merrill shared that the Quechee Club Manager has said that he’s always looking to see if there are students from the Culinary Program looking for jobs. Mr. North shared that this would be a great presentation for an engagement meeting, or other students who could share their path at HHS.

HCC, Russell, board meeting tomorrow, very busy, picnic in June, budget discussion, grant funding and compliance demonstration, looking for a place for a teen center, summer food program- looking for volunteers, Cassandra North coordinates the summer program

VSBA, Russell, working hard with the legislation, will send out information as soon as possible

HCOREI, Russell, meeting was emotional, opinions were voiced, committee will continue to work in a positive manner, will discuss ground rules at the next meeting

Facilities, North, PCB testing will continue, stage condition- with a temporary type fix
          5.  Public Comments

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

Mr. Merrill reminded the board that they voted to have student representatives with voting rights on the HCOREI committee. He noted that there have been no representatives on the board for some time. What proposals could be made to the students, course work? This should be a priority again. Often these reps are busy high school students with many extra curricular activities. There are many hindrances that prohibit students from interest in the position. Mrs. Russell asked about an informational handbook. Mr. DeBalsi replied yes there is, they are trying to figure out why it’s so difficult. Mr. North asked about approaching the Honors Program Advisor. 

Mr. Heavisides announced that he joined the VSBA orientation meeting last night. He listened to a student from Springfield, he didn’t know what was fact or fiction. He asked how the VSBA allowed this to happen. He asked to speak with Mrs. Russell privately about the program. This was the first time he’d seen a student participate in a discussion like this. 

Mr. Hathorn announced that HHS Exhibition Night is on June 1st. Students will be presenting their outcomes and time at HHS. He will forward this information to the board. 

Mr. Heavisides asked if there’s an attempt for board members to attend student activities. Mr. North asked for name tags. Mrs. Russell replied that it’s not required but it is nice to attend any event. 


          6. Consent Agenda (Section 4 Policy GP 4)

Meeting Minutes 

-        Engagement Meeting 4-26-2023
Appointments: Fabiola Hammond, DBS; Emily Brown, DBS; Samantha Marcotte, DBS; Jim Hewitt, DBS; Catherine Van Eyck-Sutton, Elem CIA, DIstrict Curriculum Coordinator; Brendan Tardiff, DBS
Resignations: Amy Fahey, Tenney

Monitoring Reports

-        GP 2 – Governing Style

-        B/SR 2 – Unity of Control

-        EL 6 – Emergency CEO Succession

-        EL 7 – Asset Protection

-        EL 8 – Compensation and Benefits


Mr. North asked about EL7, 7.4, there was a previous issue with this. 

Moved by Mr. North, seconded by Mr. Heavisides, to accept the Consent Agenda with the exception of EL 7 - Asset Protection, which will be removed and discussed at a future meeting, with a welcome to the new staff and best wishes to the departing staff member. Motion carried. 
          7. Next Meeting is an Engagement Meeting – date TBD

Joint meeting with Select Board, Mary Gannon, DEI training 

June meeting- student representative, student activity attendance, Monitoring Report EL7 


          8. Meeting Evaluation

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


9. Executive Session/s 

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, pursuant to (1)VSA 313(a)(3) there is need for an Executive Session  for the purpose of discussing the evaluation of a public employee and to enter Executive Session. Motion carried.

The board entered Executive Session at 7:30 PM.

The board came out of Executive Session at 

No action was taken.


          10. Adjournment

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

Respectfully submitted,

Cherrie Torrey



Next Meeting: Engagement with Select Board

Hartford School District Retirement Event, June 7, 2023

HHS Graduation, Friday, June 16, 2023