May 21, 2024

HSB Minutes 6-28-2023


Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Community Engagement/Regular Meeting Minutes

June 28, 2023 @ 5:30 pm

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

Members Present: Kevin Christie, Peter Merrill, Nancy Russell, Russell North, Douglas Heavisides    

Administrators Present: Tom DeBalsi

1.  Call to Order 

-  Changes, Additions and Approval of the Agenda

  Mr. Christie called the meeting to order at  5:35 PM.

There were no changes to the agenda.

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell to approve the agenda. Motion carried.

 2. Executive Session 

Pursuant to  (1)VSA 313(a)(7) an Executive Session is needed to discuss a student matter, moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to enter said Executive Session. Motion carried.

The board entered Executive Session at 5:36 PM.

The board came out of Executive Session at 6:00 PM.

 3.  Community Engagement Topic

Mr. North introduced the engagement topic, summer programs in Hartford. 

Emily Zanlioni, Wilder resident, Executive DIrector of HCC, spoke about the coalition. They were established in 2013 and received a drug free grant in 2019. They have administered the summer meal program in Hartford since 2015. They have several partners in the Upper Valley, and are able to offer “Take a Bite out of Hunger” in Lebanon too. They receive funding through the federal government, and are responsible for the sites where the meals are served. In 2021, 18,000 meals were distributed. In 2022, the program ran for 8 weeks, just over 26,000 meals were distributed. HCC writes and administers grants to assist the NH neighbors. In Hartford there are seven housing locations, 5 summer camps, and 2 open sites that provide lunches. Daily meals are provided to summer camps. Weekly meal bags are provided at the housing sites. She recommended families register on their website to allow for enough meals. She anticipates that 300 meal bags will be provided in mid July. The Abbey Group is contracted to order food. The delivery is a true team effort. There are many Upper Valley sponsors. She thanked the school district who allow the program to run out of the high school kitchen. The food service minivan is used for delivery for a minimal lease amount. She requested the district work with her to transition to an electronic free/reduced application process. This would allow all to enroll and the participation rate would be high enough to continue with the federal reimbursement. She additionally asked for more administrative support for the summer of 2024. She welcomed questions.

Mr. Christie asked what the cost would be for the administrative support. He asked for the information to be forwarded to Mr. DeBalsi. 

Mrs. Russell commented that at times HCC fails to timely submit proper paperwork while waiting for answers from the district. 

Mr. Christie proposed that an ad hoc committee look into this, including the CFO. 

Mr. Merrill offered a spot on a future agenda, however the board would need to warn the topic. 

Mr. DeBalsi asked what programs they deliver to. Ms Zanlioni responded, Ventures Town Summer Camp, 8.5 weeks; Creative Kids Camp; in July, Regional Resource Center; in July, Wilder School; and VINS. He further asked about the HCRS summer program at OQS. She answered, not this year because less than fifty percent of OQS population qualifies for free/reduced lunch. Mr. DeBalsi commented that the percentage also impacts other federal funding. 

Ms Zanlioni will attend the school open houses to offer information, help with the paperwork, and educate families on the need for the information. 

Mr. DeBalsi suggested an engagement meeting on this topic.

Mr. Merrill noted that there seems to be a stigma associated with the free/reduced lunch application. This isn’t a personal problem, it’s a district need, to allow Hartford to take care of its kids. 

Mrs. Russell invited the public to volunteer, information can be found at

Mr. Scott Hausler, Parks and Recreation Dept, is one of 193 accredited Parks and Rec in the country, only one in the state with national accreditation. Each year an annual report is completed with many details of programs. This is the best way to prove that the department, staff, and community are dedicated to improving the recreation in town. The department is very proud of this accomplishment. This summer: Camp Ventures (8 weeks, 80 campers),  Get Aways (travel events), scholarships available for many programs, golf clinics, archery programs (youth and adult), kayak trips, pool open seven days a week, Thursday night teen pool parties, family Friday swims, movies in the park, Wednesday night concerts, family entertainment series, Broadway Ventures, The Performing Arts Program, chess wizards, sports camps, track and field, tennis, fly fishing, and the  4th of July celebration.

He thanked the school district, employees, other sponsors, and many volunteers. The department hires many students for the summer programs. He appreciated the opportunity to share the department information. He welcomed a joint meeting with the town and school staff.

Mr. North offered a comment, recognizing his conflict of interest, all three entities are doing a good job, however if the three worked together to improve communication, the three would be better served. That information could be handed out at local performances or sporting events. 

The board thanked the presenters for their information shared.

Mr. DeBalsi shared that Mr. Hausler has worked closely with the school district to run many educational programs. He agreed that doing a publication together in a media blast would be helpful. Overall there is a tremendous amount of programs offered for children in Hartford. 

Mr. Christie gave a history and support on the sale of the Hartford Elementary school. The children asked the board to use the building. The district allowed the teen center to run out of there for $1 until the building was sold. 

Mr. Hausler added that the Park and Recreation Commission will be sending out a survey about a community center. Additional indoor space is often needed during the school day. 

Mr. DeBalsi added the district summer offerings: HCRS summer camp at OQS, elementary school summer on-the-road camp offering STEAM enrichment activities for students, VT Tech summer program for 12-16 year olds, high school summer athletic programs, and special ed department summer programs. Some clinical staff are paid over the summer to stay in contact with their students. He’s proud of what Hartford offers their youth. 

Mrs. Russell added that many volunteers are older residents like her. This is important work, having conversations with other adults is fun!

 4.  Public Engagement

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

No one from the public was online or in-person.

5. Business Meeting Items

Russell North Resolution
Mr. Merrill offered the following resolution to Mr. North: 



WHEREAS, Russell North has served on the Hartford Board of School Directors, both as an Appointed Member (12/16/2015 - 3/9/2016) and as an Elected Member (3/14/2018 - 6/28/2023), and;


WHEREAS, his confidence, integrity and passion has enabled him to fill the role of Board Clerk with vision and effectiveness, and;


WHEREAS, his work on behalf of the School District, having gone far beyond that which might be expected, has shown extraordinary insight, sensitivity, compassion and a dedication to promoting equity and fairness;


NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by his fellow Board Members, that Russell North be given a vote of sincere appreciation for his many years of service (in many different roles) on the Hartford Board of School Directors, and furthermore, that this resolution be recorded in the Town Records, dated this 28th day of June, 2023.


Mr. North thanked the board for the kind words. 

Mrs. Russell presented Mr. North with a gift from the board. 

Summer Hiring Permission
Mr. DeBalsi updated the board on the past practice of the board allowing  him to hire during the board’s summer recess.

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, pursuant to past practice the board will allow the superintendent to hire such staff as necessary while the board is not in session. Motion carried.

Business Operating Policies 
- Federal Procurement, Conflict of Interest, Capitalization of Assets, Travel Reimbursement

Mr. Merrill presented these policies as the 1st reading. They were reviewed by the Policy Committee.

Mr. North asked regarding the capitalization of assets, useful life length, how will the board ensure compliance with these procedures?

Mr. Merrill noted that Mr. North’s changes will be reflected in the next reading in August at which time the board would take action on the policies. 

6.  Consent Agenda

Minutes from Joint Meeting 6/13/2023 
Minutes from Regular Meeting 6/14/2023 
Appointments: Sarah Hisman, MMS Interim Asst Principal; Andrew Reilly, MMS; Chloe Balch, WRS
Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to accept the Consent Agenda as presented, with a welcome to the new staff members. Motion carried. 

 7.  Public Comments  

No one was in attendance to speak.

Mr. Christie shared that he saw Dylan Morse, former HHS student and board rep, who is working in the Governor’s office as an aide. Congratulations to Dylan!

 8. Meeting Evaluation

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

9. Executive Session

Pursuant to (1)VSA 313(a)(3) an Executive Session is needed for the purpose of discussing the evaluation of a public employee, moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. Heavisides, and to enter into said Executive Session. Motion carried.

The board entered Executive Session at 7:12 PM.

The board came out of Executive Session at 8:20 PM.

Motion made by Mr. Merrill to agree to superintendent’s evaluation and improvement plan and salary for year 4 of 5 year contract. Seconded by Mr. North, all in favor. 

10. Adjournment

Moved by Mr. North, seconded by Mr. Merrill, to adjourn at 8:22 PM. Motion carried.

Respectfully submitted,

Cherrie Torrey



Next Meeting is a Board Retreat on 8/23/2023 at 5:00 at the SOS