June 28, 2017

Pre-Town Meeting Minutes for the HSB from February 27, 2017


Hartford Board of School Directors
Pre-town Meeting
February 27, 2017
HHS Auditorium

Board members present: Lori Dickerson, Kevin Christie, Peter Merrill, Nancy Russell

Administrators present: Tom DeBalsi, Noel Bryant


7:00 pm Bill Mann opens the meeting and Roger Blumfield establishes ground rules.


  1. School Board Presentation 7:45 pm

    • Lori Dickerson and Tom DeBalsi present the Hartford School Budget for fiscal year 2018. While the proposed budget has a  2.8% property tax increase based on homestead value, there would be a 12.8% decrease on property taxes based on income. The proposed total revenue for FY2018 is $37,442,478.

    • Addressing the increase around the collaboratives, how those programs operate fiscally is explained. Notable increases are $379,000 for the Building Trades Housing development Phase II of infrastructure buildout; $200,000 for special education paraprofessionals; and $282,000 for special education tuition.

    • Challenges faced when budgeting have been the decrease in number of Hartford Equalized Pupils, the desire to be competitive for local tuition students, changes in Vermont healthcare, ongoing contract negotiations with teachers and support staff, and receiving late information from Montpelier around level funding budget.

 

  1. Public Comments and Questions

    • A citizen of White River Junction expresses his frustrations with Montpelier that rates are not aligned or setup to allow the school board to set realistic budgets.

    • Susanna Petrie of White River Junction wonders how much the teachers have to buy out of their own pockets. Tom DeBalsi shares that teachers have an allotment for supplies and curriculum materials.

    • Sarah Campbell speaks to lack of transportation around Pre-K since many of the parents work and aren’t able to provide transportation.

    • Sue Buckholz from Hartford wonders if there is a concern about a lack of tuition students. Tom DeBalsi shares that consolidation from other districts could impact HSD but currently has not.

    • A citizen of White River Junction is concerned about the rising healthcare costs and encourages the school board to use any available platforms to address this issue.


  1. Candidates

    • Michele Boleski, a 2 year candidate for the School Board, explains that she is running because she is passionate about public education. She is a small business owner and had previously taught art for 10 years, some of those years in HSD schools.

    • Peter Merrill, running for re-election as a 3 year candidate for the School Board, explains his motivation for running for the position. He believes a strong school district is vital for a healthy community.

    • Jeff Arnold, a 3 year candidate for the School Board and former school board member, shares his points of disagreement with the current board and ideas for future improvements.


  1. Public Questions for the Candidates

    • Tim Schaal asks about the parking lot bond amount and use of an architect to determine the costs. Peter Merrill shares that there is a second hearing about the bond this Saturday (March 4) and speaks to the decision around selecting the process adopted. Jeff Arnold talks to possible money in the budget that could be applied to the project.

    • A citizen asks about the candidates’ view on education around diversity in HSD schools. The candidates discuss the importance of the issue being addressed early and continually in education as well as the importance of community support.

    • A citizen speaks to the positive atmosphere his students experience at HSD schools, and encourages campus planning. Peter Merrill speaks to part of the proposed bond, which includes a traffic study, the results of which would hopefully allow a better use of the space.

    • A citizen questions Jeff Arnold’s commitment to the board due to his past decision to quit the HSB. Jeff Arnold speaks to that past decision and his commitment to following HSB even though he is not on the board.


9:40 pm The pre-town meeting is completed.


Draft Respectfully Submitted 3/2/2017 by

Hannah Prescott