March 27, 2023

HSB Minutes 3-23-2022

Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Community Engagement Meeting Minutes

March 23, 2022 @ 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

Havah Armstrong Walther                                Rick Dustin Eichler

Olivia Merrill                                                    Nelson Fogg


          1.  Call to Order 

-                  Changes, Additions and Approval of the Agenda  

Mr. Christie called the meeting to order at 6:00 PM.

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to accept the agenda as presented. Motion carried.

          2.  Community Engagement Topic

-     School “Ends Policy” Reporting    

Mrs. Newton gave a quick introduction to The Ends. The Universal End and the DIstrict Commitment have not changed. The two district goals are Academic Proficiency and Safe and Healthy Schools.

-        Hartford High School

Mr. Fogg, HHS principal, shared the presentation, The Tale of Two Schools. He reviewed the District Commitment and Vision slides. He shared concerns about ALL students. 

Goal #1: Students are participating at an amazing rate in athletics, performing arts, and clubs. Students continue to challenge themselves with advanced courses, college courses, AP classes, and Early College programs. Attendance and achievement are closely related, if you come to school you can do well. Teachers focus on relationships and increasing engagement and support. Block 5 provides students extra support time. The Teton Science School affiliation continues. Two staff members provide professional development with the staff on trauma and instructional practices. Ms Ibrhim provides support for anti-racist, equitable and inclusion practices. 

Goal #2: Health and Wellness: Panorama data is compared to non-urban high schools, HHS data was higher than national peers in all areas, teacher student relationship is much higher 72%; Independent Learning Center supports struggling students with attendance issues and individualized learning; Block 5 support time; mental health clinicians directly support over 70 students and are unable to serve new referrals; attendance issues- 16% of students have missed at least 20 days; discipline referrals/ suspension rates are back to pre-pandemic rates. Fourteen students have left school this year, all had attendance issues and had many adults working with them. Many of these issues are not a Hartford issue but nationwide challenges. 

Mr. Fogg described another school challenge, students who avoid school due to a variety of mental health issues. Physically entering the school building can be difficult. Family home visits have been done this year to show support for the student with the hope of coming up with  a plan to return. Some students continue to use an online platform.

He summarized that many students are doing very well. The staff is working hard to meet the needs of the students. The goal for the future is to supplement the strong traditional school model with a strong alternative that supports all students thriving in school. Serving ALL students is critical. The school is responsible for taking care of the whole child.

Olivia thanked Mr. Fogg for the presentation. She asked about the number of absences due to COVID. He replied early in the year students were told to be out for ten days when they tested positive, but did not have actual data on the number of COVID absences.

Ms Walther asked about the ILC becoming a therapeutic setting. Mr. Fogg responded that the ILC will be expanded. 

Mr. Merrill shared that this is an example of a larger systemic and community problem. How do we reach out to society to start to get us all to reflect on what we’re doing to each other?  

Mr. Fogg responded that he doesn’t have control over students’ lives. He wants them to be able to access their education. Our schools have to become centers for wellness, health, and academics. All of our children are being impacted by what’s going on in society. We are ready to work to get to ALL students. He’s proud to be part of this district. 

Mr. Christie thanked Mr. Fogg. We are working toward Hartford’s hybrid.


-        Dothan Brook School

Mr. Dustin Eichler, principal of Dothan Brook, shared the presentation. It has been a difficult challenging year. DBS was not fully staffed until November. Things have gotten better. The return in January was smooth, unfortunately when the next COVID wave hit, many staff members were out. 

Goal #1: The Action Steps: Adopt EL Benchmark Assessment, trained two teachers in Wilson Language Program, explored EL ELA curriculum, expanded pre-K programming, leadership team adopted 5 Dimensions of Teaching and Learning, continued with partnerships with VINS and Growing Change. The Reading specialists have served 90 students since the beginning of the year. This has been a great growth area. He shared “frog” writing samples from third graders, the amount of writing the students are doing is great. All students are working on the same topic but are able to work at their own level. Dartmouth’s Growing Change, America Reads, and music volunteers are in the school. The STAR data showed that between the end of September and beginning of December students are making about a half year’s progress which is great. 

Goal #2: Safe and Healthy School; additional staffing- mental health clinician and behavior interventionist; behavior challenges have been cut in half, September/October through December to March; built developmental kindergarten program; and built restorative practices into the comprehensive behavior plan. 

The plan for the future includes: evaluate and review school and district multi-tiered system of supports, adopt EL and 5 Dimensions of Teaching and Learning, teaching coach, revise PBIS programming, and move diversity, equity and inclusion work forward.

Another big challenge was building the school community during COVID. Many whole school activities were not able to be held. Smores was a big event at DBS. He spoke of the challenges when students don’t qualify for special education services because there’s no adverse effect. There are many bright students who have mental health and behavior challenges. The district has been able to support staffing for these students with funding from the general education fund. 


          3.  Public Engagement 

The public was invited to the meeting in person at the Hartford Town Hall or online using the  link, meeting ID 974 3075 5984.

Mr. Hathorn reported at 7:25 there were no questions from the ZOOM participants.

Mr. DeBalsi shared that at the second meeting in April the rest of the schools would share their presentations. Mr. Heavisides will present the Wilder School at a later date. He is working on an open house. 

Brianne Goodspeed thanked the two principals for their presentations tonight. They were very informative and she looks forward to hearing from the other principals. 

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to approve Gabrielle Lucke, Michelle Boleski, and FX Flynn to serve on the Town Charter Commission on behalf of the School Board. Motion carried. Mr. DeBalsi will forward the three names to the town officials. 

4. Adjournment

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to adjourn at 7:34 PM, motion carried.


Respectfully submitted,

Cherrie Torrey



Next Regular School Board Meeting is April 6, 2022, at 6:00 PM*