December 14, 2017

HSB Minutes -1-11-2017


Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Meeting Minutes

January 11, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

Hartford Town Hall

 

Board members present:  Paula Nulty, Lori Dickerson (by phone), Kevin Christie (by phone), Peter Merrill, Nancy Russell

Administrators present:  Tom DeBalsi, Noel Bryant, Jim Vezina

 

 

1.   Call to Order:  Paula Nulty called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM        

 

2.   Public Comments

  • Michelle Boleski (WRJ):  Do we have a master plan or vision for campuses?  Have we done a projected school enrollment study?  How does Act 46 affect us and our student population?  What is the process for getting a quote from an architect? What is the process to have the construction done (will it go out to bid)?  What are the potential problems for combining RAP and HARP?
  • Jeff Arnold:  commented on state law and time for citizens to speak.  Minutes from 12/14 were oversimplified.  Not against the parking lot, but against the combination of the two bonds.  For parking lot bond and all for finding money to support RAP and HARP.  Concerned about David Laurin’s overages in previous projects.  Commented on populations in schools – decrease from 2001.  Present debt service of $150,000/yr.  Proposing to add another $150,000/yr.  Jeff then read a letter to the public about previous expenditures on school facilities and proposed expenditures.  Pushing for Wilder bond to be postponed.  Offered alternative suggestions.
  • Marcy Bartlett (Wilder):  thinks we should keep the school property (Wilder).  Value in keeping our Hartford students in our town instead of sending them elsewhere.  Could we consider solar in renovating the school (potential for recouping some costs).
  • Kathy Melzik (Wilder):  in favor of keeping the school in Wilder.  Proposal seems a bit rushed.  Would like to see further numbers on these programs.  Would like to see original details about why selling the problem was originally problematic.  Would also like to see the details of why it is alright now.  Question about whether or not the parking lot is being bonded.  Would like to see greater details about renovation. 
  • Gerry Williams (Wilder):  How many of the children are Hartford kids?  Which of our educational facilities have not been worked on?  When will there be a break from renovations which would allow us to pay off some things.
  • Mr. DeBalsi spoke about the time in the 90s when the Post Office considered buying the property.  The covenant was cleared at that point.  There will be two more informational meetings on the bonds if the Board decides to go forward with this.

 

3.   Changes, Additions and Approval of Agenda

 

Peter Merrill moved that we approve the agenda.  Nancy Russell seconded.  Agenda was approved unanimously. 

 

4.   Consent Agenda 

Peter Merrill moved to approved the consent agenda.  Kevin Christie seconded.  The motion passed.

 

  • Minutes - Regular Meeting - 12/14/2016
  • Minutes - Special Meeting – 12-21-2016
  • 2017-18 School Calendar - Final

 

5.   Items Requiring Board Discussion and Possible Action

Policy EL 9.4 Communication and Support to the Board – Incidental Information

Mr. DeBalsi talked about his trip to Washington DC to honor the national finalists for School Counselor (Rebecca Lallier was one of 5 finalists).  Ms. Bryant talked about Hartford High School’s first Exhibition Night and students final presentation in Ms. Kent’s math class and how they were both great examples of steps the high school is taking to move towards personalized and proficiency based learning.

 

 

  • Policy GP 9 Governance Investment

○       Independent Auditor’s Report:  Chris Barrett talked about the audit:

○       Thanks to Mr. DeBalsi and Jim Vezina on their cooperation and organization. It was determined that the District was in compliance with Federal regulations around Federal monies.  End of report shows budget to actual comparison.  There was a positive unexpended balance.  There were projects not started but monies were reserved for completing them during the summer time period.  Clarified that the collaborative programs were zero balanced. 

○       Peter Merrill moved that the Board accept the Auditors Report. Kevin Christie seconded.  The board unanimously agreed.

○       Policy Amendment - Final Reading:

○       Peter Moved that final approval be given to GP9.  Nancy Russell seconded.  It passed unanimously.

  • Policy EL 5 Financial Planning and Budgeting

○       Regional Alternative Program Bond and/or Proposals

○       Mr. DeBalsi went through the presentation made Monday night.  The Board asked questions and made comments.  Nancy Russell commented that she thought we should put forth the bond for the renovation of the Wilder School.  Supports combining the programs and keeping the present building.  Peter Merrill stated that in his opinion renovating the building is the right path to take.  These students should not be put into a space that is inferior to other spaces our HSD children enjoy.  Kevin Christie thought that until there was the ability to do some cost sharing of the renovations, he couldn’t support it.  However, now that this issue is resolved, it is the perfect time to make this investment.  He supports this proposal.  Lori Dickerson still has concerns that some people view that we are rushing into this.  She would prefer to take more time to look at this and vet.  Paula Nulty said that she still has a number of questions.  While the space for these programs is not right, we need to answer several questions.  Would like more definite figures on the value of the building.  Likes the idea of combining the two programs.  Would like to talk to other schools in the collaborative to see if they have other ideas.  Not sure if building a new space is comparable to the space at Wilder.  Would like to talk to other contractors and architects.  Need a better understanding of how hosting the program benefits HSD financially. She would like to continue pursuing this if the Board decides not to put it forward at this time.

○       Mr. Merrill pointed out that Mr. DeBalsi had spoken to a real estate agent to get an estimate of the current value.  This was not a formal appraisal.  Regarding the space, it is not excessive in relationship to the needs of these programs.  Mr. DeBalsi has spoken with sending schools.  The other schools are very supportive of us doing something to improve the condition of the Wilder School. 

○       Mr. DeBalsi put this forward because he has been aware of the condition of the program.  Supports this proposition, but will absolutely support the decision of the Board and community.  If the Board and community do not feel it is the right time, he will work hard to support the existing programs in the present buildings.  He went on to outline the process should the Board decide to move forward. Mr. DeBalsi will work with an attorney to write the warrant.  The bond would then goes to the voters.  If it is passed, then the work for the project would go out to bid. 

○       Lori Dickerson was concerned about some of the questions that voters have been asking (e.g. solar).  Thinks we should have more time to firm up some numbers.  Maybe we should table this decision and gather more information.  It is not that we are not supportive of these programs, but wants to make sure we have exhausted looking at all possibilities.  Paula Nulty is worried about negatively influencing this by bringing it forward too soon.

○       Mr. Merrill commented that the estimate of the cost is as good as we are going to get.  Mr. Laurin was not responsible for the overage in costs (e.g. issues discovered when they broke into walls).  There is a contingency amount built into the present estimate.

○       Board discussed doing the parking lot and the Wilder School together. 

○       HHS Parking Lot Bond Consideration

○       Mr. Christie talked with the State Dept. of Transportation.  The state has offered to pay up to $30,000 for scoping the project.  At the end of the scoping study we could apply for a grant from the state (this could be up to $300,000).  There is an additional grant that would help with the cost of sidewalks and other approaches.  Mr. DeBalsi thinks this would be a good idea.  He has concerns about the way traffic flows so the scoping study would identify better ways of directing traffic.

○       Lori Dickerson agrees that this needs to be done.  Added that she knows that while there have been changes made to directions of traffic, she doesn’t think a study has ever been done.

○       Mr. Merrill said that present estimate included $60,000 for a study and an additional sum that might be needed as a result of the study.

○       Mr. DeBalsi explained that if less money is spent than requested, there are 2 options.  The extra money can be used to pay other bonds.  Or, less money can be removed from the bond bank.

○       Ms. Dickerson, Ms. Nulty, Ms. Russell, Mr. Christie would like to separate the two bonds. 

○       Mr. Merrill made a motion to put a bond on the ballot for $5 million dollars to renovate the Wilder School.  Mr. Christie seconded.  The motion did not pass (2 yes; 3 no). 

○       Mr. Merrill moved to put forth a bond for 1.67 million dollars to redo the parking lot. Mr. Christie seconded.  4 yes; 1 abstention.

○       Would like to keep the Wilder School project on the table, but would like to continue to get more information.

○       Mr. DeBalsi would like the Board to approve the warrant language for the parking lot at the next meeting before he submits it to the Town.

○       Mr. Merrill thanked the Board for the collegial discussion around the Wilder School.

 

○       FY 18 Budget Proposal

 

○       Mr. Vezina pointed out the pages in the Budget Proposal that referenced the number of students in the alternative programs.  He then went over the revenue budget and the tax calculation pages. If you pay on the homestead tax property base, there will be a 2.8% increase.  If they are paying based on income, there will be a potential 12.8% decrease.  The state will finalize state educational tax setting at some future point.  Mr. DeBalsi supports this budget.  Anything less will impact our support of students.  The present budget supports current positions.

○       Peter Merrill moved that $37,442,476 be approved.  Ms. Russell seconded.  Yes – 4; No - 1

 

 

  • Policy GP 3 Board Job Outcomes

○       Board Member Committee Reports:

○       Ms. Nulty says Support Staff negotiations continue collegially.  Ms. Dickerson reports that negotiations with teachers are going well.  Mr. Christie told the Board that the legislature is in discussion regarding adjustments to Act 46.

 

  • Policy B/SR 5 Monitoring Superintendent Performance – Report:  Mr. Christie will review this policy at the next meeting.

 

6.  Meeting Review/Evaluation and Agenda Planning

  • Ms. Russell did the meeting review.  She thought the Board was well prepared.  The Board treated all persons fairly and adhered to the rules.  She went on to give the Board satisfactory marks on all of the evaluation points.
  • Agenda Planning: 

○       Wilder School issue (Mr. Merrill suggested forming a committee to work on this issue between Board meetings, perhaps after the budget vote).

○       Meetings we need to attend to put forward the budget process

○       Presentation for 2 bond hearings on the parking lot (Mr. Merrill volunteered to work with Mr. DeBalsi on this).

○       Continuing with the Monitoring Reports

○       Annual Report

○       School Budget Presentation (Lori volunteered to help with this) – to take place on Feb. 27, 2017.

 

 

7.  Executive Session – Peter Merrill moved to move into Executive Session.  Ms. Russell seconded.  The motion passed unanimously.  The Board went into Executive Session at 9:27.

 

Executive Session (1 VSA 313) (If Needed) (Mot. Req.): c. (3) the appointment or employment or evaluation of a public officer or employee, provided that the public shall make a final decision to hire or appoint a public officer or employee in an open meeting and shall explain the reasons for its final decision during the open meeting; I further move that the Board enter into Executive Session to discuss the evaluation of a public employee under the provisions of Title 1, Section 313(a) (1) of the Vermont Statutes.

 

Peter Merrill moved for the Board to exit Executive Session at 9:50, seconded by Nancy Russell. No Action was taken in Executive Session.

 

Peter Merrill motion to adjourn at 9:53 and it was seconded by Nancy Russell. The Board adjourned at 9:54.

 

Draft respectfully submitted 1/11/17

Noel Bryant