June 12, 2021

HSB Minutes 2-24-2021

                       Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Community Outreach Meeting Minutes

February 24, 2021 @ 6:00 pm

Online Meeting  

Public Link = https://zoom.us/j/97430755984

Meeting ID = 974 3075 5984

Board Members Present            Administrators Present

Kevin Christie                    Tom DeBalsi

Peter Merrill                    Cathy Newton

Nancy Russell                    Roy Hathorn

Russell North

Michelle Boleski

Katie Trombley

1.  Call to Order Both School and Town

Changes, Additions and Approval of Agenda

Mr. Christie opened the school meeting at 6:03 PM.

Mr. Fraser, Select Board Chair, opened the town meeting at 6:03 PM.

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

Members of HCOREI were welcomed as panelists to the meeting. 

2. Joint Discussion with the Select Board to review “Community Engagement Model” 

Overview of School Board Community Engagement Model
Mr. Christie gave an overview of the board’s goal of engaging the community at the second board meeting of each month. Mr. North and Ms Boleski plan the activity for these meetings. The development of EL10 came from these meetings. 

Tonight’s Engagement Meeting Topic – HCOREI
      Brief explanation of our evolving Community Engagement process

 Introduce our Community Engagement Team:

                              -Board Community Engagement Team, Russell and Michelle 

                              -School Administrators, Tom, Roy, Cathy 

                              -Board HCOREI Reps, Russell and Nancy 

This is intended to be a method of letting residents know what is happening in the district who may not be in the regular school communication loop. Public participation is encouraged. The board also is able to survey community members as well as the school community. Surveys and results are shared through Facebook, the Listserv,  and the district website. Figuring out the best way to reach community members is key.                

Brief description of Policy Governance
Mr. North gave an explanation of Policy Governance. He referenced The Ends, the goals the district has for students leaving school. Policy Governance is a model that identifies the superintendent as the board’s sole employee. The board reports to him and requests any action through him. Mr. DeBalsi is required to evaluate the district through monitoring reports, sharing these annually with the board. Board members have specific parameters they operate under and as board members are not out directing district employees. Parents and the community are identified as the owners.

Our Policy Process
All policies are on the district website under the policy tab. The policies fall into five categories: The Ends, Executive Limitations, Management Delegation, Governance Process, and Federal and State Mandated Policies. 

Integration of The Strategic Plan
              -Anti Racism Policy      

                                -EL 10

              -HCOREI Relationship 

Mr. DeBalsi introduced Mrs. Newton and Mr. Hathorn who are working together to address the new Strategic Plan.  Mr. Hathorn shared a powerpoint presentation highlighting what has been accomplished. With trying to figure out how to open the schools in the fall and using the Anti Racism policy and procedures as a framework, training sessions with staff were held. Staff surveys were used to gather information about what the staff needs for support. All staff have had many training opportunities and continue to do schoolwide work on equity topics. There is a student equity group who meet with Mr. Hathorn, they will send a student survey next week. Next year each school will write a specific goal of how they will work to meet the district equity goal. The district will hire a new equity coordinator next year who will work on further implementing the Strategic Plan and help to develop curriculum . HCOREI has been helpful in gathering resources for the planning group to use in district training. 

Mr. Christie spoke about the statewide group who is working to support local work on equity and racism. Several district leaders are working with other groups to address this. He referenced the requested reading list from the state librarian which shows that many Vermonters are reading about this topic. 

Select Board members offered words of appreciation to the district and HCOREI  for this work.

Anti Racism Policy Implementation
          -Administrative Council- elementary principals are participating in a book study

          -District-wide Signage- posters displayed in all buildings

                -Web page development- resources for staff and community

    -District Advisory Team Creation- Tom, Cathy, Roy, 2 teachers, 2 HCOREI     members

          -Community Advisory Team- HCOREI

          -Teacher Professional Development- work on common language/definitions     

     Next steps:

encourage periodical Select Board attendance at community engagement meetings, reserve first part of each meeting for shared initiatives 
changes to the HCOREI charge will be sent to both boards for approval
John presented HCOREI’s request for the change to their charge, #5, both content and grammatical.

sharing information from the equity coordinator with the town

Mr. Fraser entertained a motion to close the Select Board meeting at 7:51 PM, motion carried. 

3.  Business

    Letter to Community

Mr. Merrill shared a letter he wrote after a discussion with Mr. Christie regarding racial harassment directed at women of color who have chosen to hold public office. Discussion was held as to how to share this with the community, asking others to pledge their support or just from the board? Mr. North suggested adding another paragraph with language about board support and demanding the behavior stop. Ms Boleski shared she attended the Equity caucus meeting at the legislature, she signed a similar letter that was circulated at that meeting. She feels this letter is powerful. Mr. DeBalsi cautioned using the new language as it’s a repeat of what’s in the district’s policy already. Mrs. Russell spoke in support of the letter, as it’s positive in nature and not threatening. She said the board needs to identify the purpose and audience. Mr. Merrill asked about the possibility of publishing this letter in the newspaper. 

Moved by Mrs. Russell, seconded by Mr. North, to empower Mr. Merrill to draft language with changes as discussed, circulate for signatures, send a copy to the Select Board, post on the district website, and further place an ad in the Valley News. Motion carried. 

Approve 2020 Audit Report

Mr. North shared his thoughts about the unqualified opinion from the auditor, RHR Smith and Company, that the financial statements were accurate findings of the district. The auditor was complimentary of the financial staff. Statements show the district is in stable financial status, end of year 2020  $1.7M surplus. Mr. North further complimented Jim Vezina, Jake Vezina, and Mr. DeBalsi for their work. Mr. North asked for action before the Saturday School District Meeting. 

Moved by Mr. North, seconded by Mr. Merrill, to approve the annual audit for the school year ending June 30, 2020. Motion carried. 


4.   Adjournment

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to adjourn the meeting at 8:31 PM, motion carried. 

Respectfully submitted,

Cherrie Torrey



Town Meeting Day is Saturday, February 27, 2021 at 10:00 AM

Town Meeting Australian Ballot Voting is Tuesday, March 2 from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM

Next regular School Board meeting is Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 6:00 PM

               Next School Board Community Outreach Meeting is Wednesday, March 24, 2021 at 6:00 PM