June 9, 2023

HSB Minutes 2-23-2022

Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Community Engagement Meeting Minutes

February 23, 2022 @ 6:00 pm

Members Present                                                    Administrators Present

Kevin Christie                                                            Tom DeBalsi

Peter Merrill                                                              Roy Hathorn
Russell North                                                            
Havah Armstrong Walther

          1.  Call to Order 

-        Changes, Additions and Approval of the Agenda  
Mr. Christie called the meeting to order at 6:00 PM.

Mr. Christie asked Mr. DeBalsi to update the board on committee assignments. He brought forth Ann Raynolds and Patrick Autilio as volunteers for the HCOREI committee. Mr. North and Ms Walther agreed with the nominations.

Moved by Mr. North, seconded by Ms Walther, to nominate Ann Raynolds and Pat Autilio to be members of the HCOREI committee for the Town of Hartford Selectboard and School Board. Motion carried. 

Mr. Merrill asked that they be invited to a future board meeting.

2.  Community Engagement Topic/s

-        School Budget 2022-23 Questions

Mr. North reminded the body that the budget amount of $43,687,968 represents an increase in spending, however the tax rate will go down by 8.8 cents per 100 or a 5.3% decrease on the tax rate. This is a combination of a rise in the equalized per pupil spending amount, the use of some fund balance, and the anticipation of additional revenue. The “yield” amount has increased which causes the tax rate to go down. Income sensitivity homeowners will have a greater decrease in their taxes. The second homeowner tax rate will decrease as well.

 The biggest driver of the increase to the budget is salary and benefits. The state negotiates the health insurance benefits, which have increased. The salary increase is much less than the current rate of inflation. Given COVID and the related concerns last year the district pared back routine and extra maintenance projects which has now been reinstated at the prior level. The food service is budgeted to increase $400,000, due to supply and staffing costs. The transportation line is increased too, again due to staffing. 

The $800,000 capital project reserve fund, drawn from the surplus, would be set aside for future projects. The priority project would be the Ottauquechee roof and Dothan Brook roof would be second. Mr. DeBalsi offered the public, if there is interest or need for additional information on the roof settlement from years ago, he’d be happy to look into that. It’s all recorded, but was years ago, before his tenure.

Mr. North shared that this budget is the best estimate. The numbers are not finalized until the legislature finishes their work.

Mr. Christie reminded the body that there is a detail of the expenditures and tax rates, from 2002 to now, in the Annual Report, page 21. Mr. North added that this chart is for the General Fund and doesn’t include the collaborative programs. 

Mr. DeBalsi shared that the information is on the website and Mr. North’s school email is there as well. He welcomes questions and comments.

-        Federal Grant Funding - Review and Parent Involvement, Public Input

Mr. Hathorn presented how the ESSER funds are being used. He will post this slideshow in the school board section of the website.

Each school continues to monitor how students are doing and what additional support is needed. The goal is to limit the impact of COVID on the students.

ESSER 1, $255,385 and ESSER 11, $1,062,767 are complete and ESSER III, for the spring, is slated at $2,393,099.

Mental Health and Well Being; Re Engagement and truancy; and Academic Success and Achievement are the focus areas. 

Some proposed use of ESSER III funding: 

Interventionists are targeting the elementary schools. There is a staff member who is assisting in extended learning to work with students who have missed school and need additional help in transitioning back. Homeless support to find transportation for students to another school because of their homelessness is extremely difficult. A family service coordinator would work within the community with the families to help remove the barriers to attending school. Additional staffing for Pre-K, interventionists, and coaches, summer school/tutoring, afterschool programming, and tuition for summer programs are on the proposed list. Additionally at the early level additional Occupational Therapy, ELA material and professional development, and adding a second ELL teacher is on the proposed list.

There is a survey link for families about how COVID has impacted their child(ren). This will be posted on the district website in the school board section with a live link to the survey on the presentation. Mr. DeBalsi said there would be a notice sent out with the survey information. Ms Walther volunteered to get this on the board’s facebook page. 

Mr. Merrill asked about addressing the needs of the gifted population. Mr. Hathorn responded, it’s being addressed through summer programs with music and arts. Mr. Merrill further asked about Dartmouth courses and other learning opportunities. Will some of the funds be targeted to aid or add to current programs? He cautioned about addressing all in the bell curve. 


          3.  Public Engagement

The public was invited in-person at Hartford Town Hall or via Zoom, 

https://zoom.us/j/97430755984, meeting ID 974 3075 5984.

Mr. Christie announced that Miss Whitney’s high school class testified for protecting tribal land by exempting their taxes, H556, passed in the House and is on its way to the Senate. House members shared that the students did a wonderful job with their testimony.

Cristina Tardie, White River Jct., asked about masks in schools. She referenced an update from the AOE and Governor Scott’s February 15th address. She wants a conversation to start about the mask mandate. Mr. DeBalsi responded regarding the recommendation of an 80% vaccination threshold in any one school. He noted that no school is near the 80% rate, the highest might be the high school at 60%., the data may not be accurate. An accurate rate would be compiled by the state based on immunization records. The school board would make the decision, they will continue the discussion. Mr. Merrill asked since this is not a warned discussion topic on the agenda that the board not go into the discussion further. 

Ms Tardie continued that this should be a discussion open to the community. Mr. Christie responded this will be on the next agenda, March 9, 2022.

Mr. DeBalsi noted that he’s heard many people view the meetings via CATV recordings and not join by ZOOM. All meetings are archived. 

4.  Adjournment

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Ms Walther, to adjourn at 7:29 PM. Motion carried. 

Mr. Christie thanked the school administrators, Cherrie Torrey for accurate minutes, Mr. DeBalsi and his team for their ongoing work, and fellow board members for their community engagement work.  


Respectfully submitted,

Cherrie Torrey



Next Regular School Board Meeting is March 9, 2022, at 6:00 PM