June 12, 2021

HSB Minutes 4-28-2021

Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Community Engagement Meeting MInutes

April 28, 2021 @ 6:00 pm

Online Meeting  


Members Present                                          Administrators Present

Kevin Christie                                                  Tom DeBalsi

Peter Merrill                                                    Cathy Newton

Nancy Russell                                                 Roy Hathorn

Russell North                                                  Rick Dustin Eichler

Havah Armstrong Walther                                Doug Kussius

Dylan Morse                                                   Amelia Donahey

Katie Trombley


1.  Call to Order 

-        Changes, Additions and Approval of Agenda  
Mr. Christie called the meeting to order at 6:09 PM. This community engagement meeting will include a review from the three elementary schools.
The public was invited to the meeting using https://zoom.us/j/93301988404, meeting ID 933 0198 8404 (incorrect link). The correct meeting ID was 974 3075 5984.

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to approve the agenda with the addition of approval of the Memorandum of Understanding  with the teachers, motion carried. 


2.  Appointments, Resignations and Leaves

-        HCOREI Appointments – Swienckowski, Hall, Raynolds, Munafo
Mr. DeBalsi announced that the four members of HCOREI want to extend their term, he thanked them for their interest in continuing. 

-        Teacher Appointments, Resignations, Leaves

Rachel Guim, MMS; Kristin Allen, MMS; Mat Pause, HHS; Stephen Drew, MMS; 

Matt Dragon, HACTC


Joe Gordon, SpEd; Stephanie Murray, OQS; Rebecca McKinney, DBS; Allison Porreca, RAP; Abbie Markowski, HHS; Sarah Gahn, MMS; Sarah Wellman, SpEd

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to approve the appointments and resignations, with a thank you to those leaving and a welcome to the new staff joining the district. Motion carried. 


3.  Equity and Inclusion Updates

-        Follow-up on Unpacking Systemic Racism
     Mr. North asked the board if there was interest in continuing this discussion topic at each community engagement meeting. He noted that he feels it is useful and should be routinely added to the agenda, possibly a fifteen to thirty minute segment. Mr.  Merrill suggested that the Select Board and HCOREI members be invited to future meetings that include any equity training. Ms Walther asked about reaching out to the Select Board rep, board members agreed, and she will contact the rep. Mr. North asked board members to notify Ms Walther or him with names of community members that should be invited. Many ideas came from the discussion about future community engagement meetings. 

     Dylan gave an update on his student representative project and asked for time at the next community engagement meeting on May 26, 2021. Katie added she’s been talking to students and there doesn’t seem to be much interest.
-        HCOREI Resources – District Website
     Mr. Hathorn updated the board on the transition on the website. This is not new material, just in a different presentation. Mr. Christie thanked Mr. Hathorn and Ms. Munafo. This is listed under the Why Hartford, resources, HCOREI, it goes to a new page listing the resources.
-        District Equity Coordinator Introduction 
     Mr. North highlighted the new coordinator, Maggi Metry Ibrahim’s resume. It shows great commitment to the project. He thanked the hiring committee for the great work. Mr. DeBalsi spoke about her first tasks. She has already dissected the Strategic Plan. She will help the administrative team to plan the upcoming trainings. Mr. Hathorn added she will work with the administrators to help start the work in the individual buildings and will assist with building level PD.
      Mr. Christie noted that this has been a process that has taken a few years to put into place, this has been an intentional and thoughtful process. He commended the board and administrative team for their work. 


          4.  Annual District Ends Monitoring Reports - Part 1

-        District Overview, Dothan Brook, Ottauquechee, White River - Principal Reports
Mr. DeBalsi introduced Amelia Donahey, OQS Principal and welcomed Doug Kussius, WRS Principal, and Rick Dustin Eichler, DBS Principal.

Mrs. Newton shared the powerpoint presentation highlighting the Universal Ends, District Commitment, and The Multi Tier Systems of Support. The two district goals this year are academic proficiency and safe and health schools, both are connected to many Ends. She further shared evidence of meeting these goals. 

Mr. Dustin Eichler, DBS principal, shared celebrations at DBS. The elementary team worked hard this year to keep students at the center. The DBS staff worked at getting students safely in the school, temperature taking and hand washing. Families have had limited access to the school staff. Started the school year with 236 students, currently have 246 students, started with 13 remote academy students, currently only 4. School wide processes were revamped, shared videos with families about expectations, built 6 outdoor classroom spaces, partnered with VINS to better understand outside use, and most importantly worked with building better relationships. Attendance records show students have been in school at a higher rate than in the past, rates are similar to 2018-19, the last regular school year. The STAR data show that students are making progress even with the shortened day. Looking at behavior with the PBIS framework, students are needing less support at the intensive level. Services are in the classroom more, pullout services have been put on hold this year. The staff will look at the Panorama data, some challenging areas are students are concerned with others who are disrespectful. Emotional self regulation instruction has been done through the counselors. The goal next year will be to rebuild the school community, continue the use of outdoor classrooms, pilot Collaborative Problem Solving, and the adoption of the new language arts program. 

Mrs. Donahey, OQS principal, is a first time principal. She noted many silver linings from the year. She thanked the administrative team, Rick and Doug, the staff at OQS, and the families who came in the summer to help with preparations. One of OQS’s strengths is that the staff  will work together in teams to meet students’ needs. The staff used the STAR data to better understand where students were at. The number one priority for students and staff was social and emotional well being. Staff participated in “learning walks” this year, observing others in their practice. An instructional coach was instrumental in assisting with project based learning, two projects of note: Women in STEM and internet access.  A school based team attended the VT PBIS summer conference. A student leadership team was formed to review the Panorama data. Goals for next year will be the adoption of the new EL Education, returning the STEAM time, team-level coaching, expanding culturally responsive practices, and how to get families back into the school. 
Mr. Kussius, WRS principal, shared the year’s focus was safety, academics, and relationships. The new math coach was helpful in the improved math spring scores. Reading scores were lower, potentially because of the loss time in support instruction. The teachers stepped up and embraced the challenge, amazing attitude, creating a better environment and culture, and the results were better because of this. The focus of the fall was to prepare students and families for a potential remote closure. Luckily the schools stayed open. A fourth grade classroom had to be added to accommodate the student number for spacing, thus causing the shift to departmentalized model. The attendance rate was better than expected. Much fewer staff absences than usual. Remote students returned, 29 at start down to 9. The behavior monitoring showed improved behaviors. The Panorama survey data was reviewed and special days were created, fun days. Goals for next year include, returning to the full schedule, expand and utilize the coaches, adopting the EL Education, tie all “systems” together for supporting students sooner, and making a focus statement to “All kids are our kids.”

A question/answer period followed the presentations. Mr. Merrill thanked the principals for their work. Mr. DeBalsi noted that all staff have stepped up, the district has been safely open. Mr. Dustin Eichler is appreciative of the families trusting the schools and allowing their children to attend for in-person learning. Ms Walther added that she’s so proud of what Hartford has been able to accomplish, taking care of students’ health and emotional safety. She’s proud of the staffs’ dedication of countless hours. Ms Munafo thanked the principals for their reports. Mr. North thanked the presenters, he asked if it would be helpful to have a mini-presentation at the beginning of the year to outline the goals, and the possibility  of making the data reports more uniform since they all feed into the middle school. Mr. Christie thanked all for their work. Mrs. Swienckowski invited the community to a family picnic in Lyman Park on June 19th, 3PM. All safety protocols will be followed by Hartford Parks and Rec. She invited students to share poetry or music. 


          5.  Meeting Monitoring

The monitoring report was completed by Mr. Merrill, the meeting was satisfactory. 


6.  Next Meeting 

-        Remaining Board Meeting Schedule for 2020-21 School Year

-        End of the Year Important Dates – Retirement Reception, Graduation

-        School Board Summer Retreat – August 18, 2021

-        HMS/HHS Ends Report May 26, 2021

7.  Executive Session may be needed for the discussion of the Collective Bargaining Agreement

No executive session was needed. 

Mr. DeBalsi reminded the board that the staff will work their 186 days as of June 11th and that 4 additional student days are necessary to meet the number of required days (170). A waiver to the state was refused, thus needing an alternate plan.

The Memorandum of Understanding is for one more in-person day (June 11) and three more asynchronous days (during the  month of May). Students will be given assignments related to their current work, to be complete over the weekends. Staff members will have open “office hours” to assist students during this time. Mrs. Newton noted that the work would be tiered appropriately for grade levels.  

Mr. Christie recommended that the board support the MOU. 

Moved by Mr. North, seconded by Mr. Merrill, to ratify the MOU with the Hartford Education Association and the Hartford School Board as proposed. Mr. North noted that funds were available through a grant. Motion carried, with Mrs. Russell recusing herself. 


8.  Adjournment

Michelle Boleski asked, on behalf of HCOREI, whether there was a policy about creating new policies.  Mr. DeBalsi and Mr. Merrill responded there is not, any reviews are done when policies become outdated or there is need for a new policy. There is a policy review committee, all policies go through a process of readings and approvals during board meetings. Mr. DeBalsi further noted The Ends policies were created in 2009 and should be reviewed in the near future. All policies are listed on the district webpage. There are fifty required policies right now, which doesn’t include any district level ones. 

Mrs. Russell noted that the VSBA recommends that policies be reviewed on an annual basis. 

Moved by Mrs. Russell, seconded by Ms Walther, to adjourn the meeting at 8:37, motion carried. 


Respectfully submitted,

Cherrie Torrey




Next Regular School Board Meeting is May 12, 2021 at 6:00 PM