June 9, 2023

HSB Minutes 4-27-2022


Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Community Engagement Meeting Minutes

April 27, 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

Russell North     Amelia Donahey

Havah Armstrong Walther    Doug Kussius 

Sydney Stillman     Tristan Upson

       Erika Schneider


 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. North, seconded by Ms Walther, to approve the agenda as presented. Motion carried. 

 2.  Community Engagement Topic

School “Ends Policy” Reporting  
Mr. DeBalsi welcomed the principals and director who will present their school information. 

Mrs. Newton shared the two goals, Academic Proficiency and Safe and Healthy Schools,

The Universal Ends, District Commitment, and District Shared Vision. 

Ottauquechee School

Principal Amelia Donahey shared her pleasure in being at OQS this year with the students, staff, and community. The goals for the year were a new curriculum, equity, and wellbeing. She highlighted the academic work, STAR math and reading data for third through fifth grades. The instructional coach has supported the staff who continued, at varying levels, with the new EL curriculum. She shared the Elementary Leadership Team’s work in rolling out mini-observations and feedback. Several students made big jumps in their academic performance. The OQS PBIS team attended the institute last summer, some of the planned engagement work had to be tabled, but some of the equity work has been carried out. Grade level teams have looked at the Panorama data, this shows a jump in engagement in the BIPOC population. Student absences were noted; 14% have missed 20 or more days, 51% have missed ten or more. Looking ahead for next year: studying the science of reading, reflective practice, equity, and wellbeing. The PBIS work will focus on how to adapt the school to meet student needs. Based on the SBAC data socioeconomic status showed the biggest disparity. Board members asked for clarification on the data shared. 

White River School

Principal Doug Kussius shared the snapshot of the White River School. They began the year thinking academics would be the focus. The primary focus has been safety and well-being due to the continued COVID conditions. The new EL curriculum took a slow start, currently implementation is 75%. Monthly team meetings with the academic coach has focused on data and students' growth. Attendance has impacted the growth: 61% have missed more than 10 days, 26% have missed more than 20 days. 47 students have been served through Title. A recent staff walk through showed the student growth in writing. Several great student samples were shared, performance projects are done at the end of each unit. The Hawk’s Nest is fully staffed and available for a broader range of student needs. They have continued with whole school wellness activities, global school playday and wellness day. He shared the Panorama data trends from Fall 2020 to Winter 2022 which shows students are doing well given the times we’re in. Looking ahead: continue school climate work with Healing the Self, work on MTSS in school systems, celebrate getting back to basics, and collaborate/social skills training and implementation. 

Mr. Christie thanked Mr. Kussius for the complete information on the food service program that was shared at the last meeting. 

Hartford Middle School

Principal Tristan Upson shared the middle school information. The school year started with the goal of being back to normal with instruction. Three weeks into the year the complete schedule was redone given the COVID impact and student needs. Staff was supportive of the changes. Intervention this year was both pull out and push in. Star data for intervention students showed 57% increase in level of proficiency. In December a whole school writing  initiative began with a focus on mini lessons. This has shown an increase in the ability to sustain writing. Instructional practices were a focus in the departments. SBAC data from sixth grade was low. This was impacted by the lack of testing during the pandemic. The seventh and eighth grade data was more inline with previous years. Students have been able to have a speaker series either in-person, virtually, or some sort of hybrid model. The Panorama data has some highlights: 89% of students have supportive relationships at school and home, 73% have strong relationships in/out of the classroom with teachers. The lowlights: 37% students feel engaged in their learning, 44% report feeling a sense of belonging at school. Pathways program has mixed results, improved some student attendance, suspension data improved but not sustained. Looking ahead: piloting a model for intervention, reading lit circle groups, non fiction reading and writing in science, math small group interventions, pre/post assessment, 6th grade team model return, instructional practices for next year on staff goal setting, and continuing the equity work with a staff read. All students will have a common reading block. Band and chorus will return back in the schedule, all sixth graders will take it during the first semester. 

Hartford Area Career and Technical Center

 Erika Schneider, new director at the center. She noted “a lot of fun stuff going on”. Student growth has been shown in the individual programs. Students now take a Workplace document exam. This has shown a need for literacy pieces, there will be a new staff member next year to support students and staff with reading. She shared the HACTC student climate survey data, they don’t take the Panorama survey. An area to grow is that students treat staff, teachers, and each other with respect. All programs are full which impacts how they treat each other. Climate data shows students are pretty happy with their program at the center. The Perkins grant money has allowed them to replace some equipment. Any issue that can’t be addressed at the center is referred back to the sending school. Looking ahead: integrating literacy into the programs, continuing to build school culture, and reopening an IT program. There are eight new staff members out of thirty. 

Mr. DeBalsi noted that Ms Schneider has done an excellent job transitioning staff during a pandemic.

He further congratulated and thanked the other administrators for their fine work. 

3. Public Engagement

The public was invited to the meeting in-person or online using the  link: https://zoom.us/j/97430755984, meeting ID = 974 3075 5984.

Michelle Boleski attended the Hartford Planning Commission meeting on the proposed building on Route 5. She noted that many neighbors were in attendance and not supporting the project. She asked about the safety survey that was mentioned at the school informational meeting on the project. She shared information she has gathered regarding homeless shelters, day cares, and parks. She noted some encampments near the White River School and near Cumbies. She referenced a student encounter. She mentioned residents finding needles on their properties. She asked the board about their safety plan and begs that they will be proactive. She referenced a website, and hoped that the Haven could have a safety coordinator who would work with the school district. Where’s the safety survey?

Mr. Christie responded that from the community engagement meeting in the fall the district works with the town safety committee.

Mr. DeBalsi shared that at the next meeting a Level 3 grievance, an appeal, will be needed to be held in executive session. This could be before or after the regularly scheduled meeting. He will forward any necessary material to the board. Mr. North noted consideration for potential conflict of interest. 

Mr. DeBalsi noted that Dr. Gannon is not available on  Wednesday, May 25th at the second regular meeting, and is available on Monday or Tuesday. If the Selectboard wants to participate then Tuesday, May 24th would be best. Mr. DeBalsi and Mr. Christie will contact their respective parties.

Mr. Merrill asked Mr. North about his term on the board. He responded that he is going to stay on for the length of his term. Board members expressed their pleasure. 

4. Consent Agenda

Minutes 4-6-2022 Regular Meeting
Appointments: Angela Terrill, Wilder, Michael Coughlin HHS; Lance Johnson, HACTC; Fatima Shabazz, OQS; Jeremy Oulette, HACTC; Erin Bucklin DBS; Roderick Hull, Driver Ed; Elizabeth Spriggs, DBS; Tori Benson, Clinical Director, Wilder; Megan Geiselhart, RAP; Lillian Herbert, DBS Nurse; Chelsee Morrison, DBS Pre-K
Resignations: Laura Mackenzie, MMS; Jill Olson, MMS; Christopher Kondi, HHS; Kristin Allen, MMS; Kathleen Maclean, Project Search; Codi TanCreti, HHS; Melanie Farwell, DBS

Mr. Christie noted that the acceptance of the Town of Hartford School District Treasurer appointment, Mr. Joe Major, should be included in the Consent Agenda. 

Mr. North expressed disappointment with the process of appointing a treasurer, he has no problem with the person. Mr. Merrill noted that the district could have their own treasurer. 

Mr. DeBalsi will share the concern with the Town Manager, but stated it’s advantageous to have the same treasurer. John Clerkin did an invaluable job for the school district over the years. A resolution should be offered to him. 

Mr. Christie will work with Mr. DeBalsi to draft the communication.

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Ms Walther, to accept the consent agenda, including the treasurer appointment, welcoming the new staff to the district community and thanking those who are leaving. Motion carried.

Mr. Merrill moved that Ms Walther be appointed to the Negotiation Committee. Mr. Christie asked for action on this on May 11, 2022. 

5. Adjournment

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to adjourn at 7:51 PM. Motion carried.

Respectfully submitted,

Cherrie Torrey


Next Regular School Board Meeting is May 11, 2022, at 6:00 PM

*Next Engagement Meeting is May 23 or May 24 at 6:00 PM on DEI with Dr. Gannon