May 28, 2022

HSB Minutes 9-9-2021

Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Meeting Agenda

Thursday, September 9, 2021 @ 6:00 pm

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

Members Present                                          Administrators Present
Kevin Christie                                                  Tom DeBalsi

Peter Merrill                                                    Cathy Newton

Nancy Russell                                                 Roy Hathorn

Russell North

Havah Armstrong Walther

Olivia Merrill

Sydney Stillman 

          1.  Call to Order

-        Changes, Additions and Approval of Agenda  
Mr. Christie called the meeting to order at 6:07 PM.

Mr. DeBalsi reported that no Executive Session is needed tonight.

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

          2. Global Ends Reporting (Section 1 Policy EP)

-        Review of District Ends Policies in Relation to Current Events
     Mr. DeBalsi asked Mrs. Newton and Mr. Hathorn to discuss the End Citizenship and Global Awareness. Mrs. Newton shared at the elementary level that Maggie has been meeting with staff to prepare background knowledge and materials for some upcoming units which include sensitive topics. They are working on how best to make these supporting documents available to families and the community. Mr. Hathorn spoke about the work at the secondary level. Staff are working on Place Based Learning. Staff also worked with Earl Hatley, Building a Land Acknowledgement, and are trying to integrate some specific ideas into the classroom. 

          3. Communication and Support to the Board (Section 1 Policy EL 9)

-        Student Representative Report         
     Olivia Merrill thanked the board for the flexibility with the scheduled board meeting. Students are excited to be back in school. She thanked Mr. DeBalsi and Mr. Fogg for their work in getting students back. Band and Choir are able to perform in school with a full ensemble. The fall musical, Cinderella, will be starting rehearsals soon with the performance in November. Sporting events are happening with a student section in the audience. She noted that passing time has not been built into the schedule between some blocks making confusion for all. The Equity Coordinator has met with all grade levels and met with Olivia regarding her Capstone Project.

     Mr. DeBalsi and Mr. Hathorn will address the schedule issue with Mr. Fogg tomorrow.

     Sydney Stillman added that the start of school has been great. All are excited to be in-person. Athletes are happy that no masks are needed outside. She noted that some students are wearing their masks incorrectly inside, staff are trying to enforce the mask mandate. She cautioned about the number of students together outside without masks.

     Mr. North asked the students about the new block 5. 

     Sydney responded that it is confusing because it’s right after block 4. It takes time to get to the new space. Choir and band students need the time to prepare their materials. Other students are able to see staff members for additional help. She said that it would be better if it ended a bit sooner. She suggested that students shouldn’t have to go back to their advisor to check in before leaving. 

     Olivia noted that the seniors are not happy with the placement of block 5. They no longer see the need to stay in school for a “free” block. Some don’t want to do anything at the end of the day.

     Mr. DeBalsi will address these issues with the high school administrators. 

     Mr. Christie thanked Olivia and Sydney for their articulate thoughts. 

-        Superintendent’s Report
     Mr. DeBalsi reported on the opening of schools. The district is fully open with most students on campus. Staff and students are doing well. Friendly masks reminders are given. Transportation has been a challenge, and is continuing to be addressed. There are some staffing shortages, bussing, food service, and cleaning company. There has been/will be some turnover in the Central Office. Linda Couture, payroll clerk, will retire in December, her replacement will begin at the end of the  month. There will be a nice transition with Linda. Byron Baribeau, Maintenance Director,  will retire at the end of September. There were two finalists, hopefully a new person will be hired soon. Linda Nash, HR, will retire in March. 

          4. Governance Process (Section 4 Policy GP 2)

-        COVID Protocols and Updates
     Mr. DeBalsi asked the board if they have heard any concerns. The biggest defense against COVID is mask wearing. Staff have been reminding students to correctly wear their masks. Some middle school students have been sent home for noncompliance. Last week there was a case at the middle school. Thirty students were quarantined. Today a person tested positive at WRS. There are about thirty students who will need to quarantine. Anyone vaccinated does not have to quarantine, only close monitoring. The district will not look at 80% vaccination rate to remove masks. Mr. DeBalsi recommended that all keep masks on. When students are home, work and remote learning opportunities will be provided. That will not count for their attendance, per the state rule. If fifty percent of students are not in the building then that day would need to be made up. 

     Mr. North asked about the response from the health care officials. Mr. DeBalsi answered that there has been no delay.

     Mr. Merrill stated emphatically that he supports the total masks mandate. Others concurred. 

     Mr. DeBalsi added that surveillance testing will start the week of October 11. Anyvolunteer students and staff will be tested. Testing will be done in individual buildings and picked up by a currier to be delivered to the lab. He discussed potential grant funding related to the vaccine level. Sydney asked about student volunteers, yes parent permission will be necessary. She also asked about the testing interrupting the student day, TBD. 

-        Board Annual Work Plan including Community Engagement Topics
     Mr. DeBalsi reviewed the work plan. He included the engagement topics as provided by Mr. North and Ms Walther. He asked the board for comments.

     Mr. Christie suggested editing the spreadsheet to include a column for the linkage meeting topics. 

     This is included on the board’s page on the website and on their Facebook page. 

     Mr. North suggested switching EL10 and EL4. EL 10 could be introduced at the next engagement meeting. Mr. DeBalsi noted that the Equity Coordinator is new, moving the topic to the next meeting might be too soon. Mr. North suggested keeping it, she could share what she’s done and her goals. 

     Mr. Merrill thanked the board members and Mr. DeBalsi for their work in organizing the work plan and including the engagement topics. 

     Mr. DeBalsi will send an updated plan to include the topics that Mrs. Newton and Mr. Hathorn will discuss at each business meeting. Some engagement meetings will also include board training. 
-        VACTED Consortium Agreement
     Mr. DeBalsi reminded the group that a vote is required to appoint a board member to represent the board at the consortium meetings. Mr. Merrill is currently the representative to the Tech Center Board. 

     Moved by Mrs. Russell, seconded by Mr. North, to participate in the VACTED Consortium meeting and to nominate Peter Merrill to be the Hartford School Board representative. Motion carried.  

-        Annual (November 4&5) VSBIT Meeting Representative
     Vermont School Board Insurance Trust requires the board to appoint a member to attend the annual meeting. 

     Mr. Christie asked Mr. North to attend the VSBIT meeting. 

     Moved by Mrs. Russell, seconded by Mr. Merrill, to participate in the meeting and to nominate Russell North as the Hartford School Board representative. Motion carried. 

          5.  Public Comments  

The public was invited to attend in person at the Hartford Town Hall or join via Zoom,, meeting ID 974 3075 5984.

There were no public members wishing to speak.

Mr. North commented on the health insurance negotiation at the state level. He noted that he feels that the school board representatives are being unreasonable with the insurance for support staff. It is hard to find staff and the insurance coverage might be the deciding factor.

Mrs. Russell shared information from the VSBA meeting last night. Fact finding will be held soon. There will be a chance for the Hartford board to get more information. She noted that the commissioners will be coming in to do a presentation.

Mrs. Russell shared that she dropped off masks today with Mr. Hathorn. Mr. Hathorn thanked her and noted there are young child sized masks. 


          6. Board Professional Development (Section 4 Policy GP 9)

     Mr. Christie shared that there will be professional development at the September 22 meeting with Dr. Mary Gannon. She just received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAACP. HCOREI and the Hartford Selectboard members are invited to attend this training.

Mrs. Russell announced Sept 29, 6:00 PM, will be the Windham/Windsor County regional VSBA meeting, via Zoom. It’s a chance to meet other board members from the counties.


          7. Consent Agenda (Section 4 Policy GP 4)

-        Meeting Minutes – 6/30/2021, 7/14/2021, 8/18/2021

-        Appointments, Resignations
     Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to approve the Consent Agenda with the addition to the August 18, 2021 minutes- Mr. Christie is the Manifest Approval committee representative.

     Motion carried with Mr. Merrill abstaining from the June 30, 2021 minutes.

          8. Meeting Evaluation

     The meeting evaluation was completed by Mr. Merrill, noting that the meeting was satisfactory. 


          9.  Adjournment

     Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to adjourn the meeting at 7:40 PM, motion carried.


Respectfully submitted,

Cherrie Torrey



Next School Board Meeting September 22, 2021 at 6:00 PM

Community Engagement Meeting: School Board Diversity, 

Equity and Inclusion Training with Dr. Mary Gannon