June 30, 2022

HSB Minutes 5-11-2022

Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Meeting Minutes

May 11, 2022   4:30 PM

In-person at the Hartford Town Hall and Online Meeting


Members Present                                          Administrators Present

Kevin Christie                                                  Tom DeBalsi

Peter Merrill                                                    Cathy Newton

Nancy Russell                                                 Roy Hathorn

Russell North

Havah Armstrong Walther

Olivia Merrill


          1.  Call to Order  

Mr. Merrill called the meeting to order at 4:30 PM.


          2.  Executive Session

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to enter Executive Session at 4:35 PM for the purpose of discussing a personnel matter of which premature public knowledge would clearly place the the person involved at a substantial disadvantage. 

The board came out of Executive Session at 7:00 PM.

No action was taken during the Executive Session.


          3.  Return to Public Session

-      Changes, Additions and Approval of Agenda 

Mr. Christie called the regular meeting to order at 7:07 PM. He apologized to the public for the delay.

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


4.  Global Ends Reporting (Section 1 Policy EP)

-        Review of District Ends Policies in Relation to Current Events

Mrs. Newton and Mr. Hathorn reported on Global Citizenship. Maggi Ibrahim has worked with students to write a mini grant to create a multicultural event with

music, food, and a celebration with a focus for students to have their hair done,

Sunday, May 22, 11-2, at HHS outside near the tennis courts .

Ms Walther asked if this was open to the community. Mr. Hathorn and Mr. Major confirmed yes it will be open to the public. There will be appointments needed for the hair care, but the slots are taken already.

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

-        Student Representative Report         

Olivia shared a powerpoint presentation: Students participated in a protest walkout for reproductive rights, AP exams wrapping up, preparing for finals and student led conferences, awards nights coming up, 27 HHS students are joining Districts Festival, will AP alternative class opportunities be offered next year?, expanding language options, truthfulness of history resources, future of student representative program, she further thanked Mr. Hathorn who worked with Sydney and her on the history resources. 

Mr. Christie shared that the governor just signed H293, the Statewide Youth Council. He urged Olivia to pursue that.

Mr. DeBalsi thanked Olivia for her fine work in the student representative role.


-        Superintendent’s Report

Mr. DeBalsi reported Windsor Co transmission rate went to high on Thursday night, masks were mandated on Friday. Cases are on the increase in the schools. There have been many student, teacher, and staff absences lately. End of year activities outdoor prom May 21st; May 26th Exhibition Night; June 5th awards night; June 8th HHS Sr trip; June 10th graduation on the football field. Administration is busy with hiring for next year and planning curriculum/training for the summer, and horganizing summer facility work.

Does the board want the June 8th meeting at the Wilder School? There will be an open house and tour before the board meeting.

The last student date will be June 8th. HMS graduation might be June 7th.

Mr. Merrill asked if the COVID data in the schools/district could be posted on the website? This would help the public understand the district’s position. 

          6.  Governance Process (Section 4 Policy GP 2)

-        COVID Protocols - Vaccination Mandate
Mr. DeBalsi asked the board to think about next year. Up to this point the district has covered all COVID expenses under a Memorandum of Understanding with the HEA. This could be an issue for next year and he asked for some guidance. 

Ms. Walther asked what vaccinations are currently required for students and staff.

Mr. Merrill stated his support of continuing the existing staff vaccine mandate. Staff absences impact student learning and what happens in the classroom.

Mrs. Russell agreed with Mr. Merrill’s comments. 

Mr. Christie asked the Policy Committee to bring a report/recommendation back on the topic. This would include any data that supports the existing policy and potentially a new policy. 

Mr. North reminded the board that we are coming up on the end of the meeting cycle. He suggested that a report on the existing policy would be helpful, and that any recommendations be brought up with the COVID Response Team. 
-     Board Training and Summer Retreat
Mr. DeBalsi asked that board if there was a certain topic and facilitator the board would like him to schedule. Ms. Walther responded that the board had discussed this at a previous meeting. Mr. DeBalsi will work with Mrs. Newton and Mr. Hathorn on the work. 
-        Board Committee Reports and Updates
o   HCOREI - Safety Assessment- Jon Hall, Chair of HCOREI, 
Mr. Christie shared his thoughts on the engagement meeting about the Taft’s Flat development proposal. He had reviewed the minutes from the meeting. Mr. Hall, at that meeting, asked about a safety assessment. 

Mr. Hall addressed the group, previously at a Selectboard meeting there was discussion of a safety assessment, given the neighbor comments about safety on Taft's Flat could the school district play a role in this assessment?

Mr. Christie gave a summary of the district’s school safety committee. 

Mr. Merrill shared that the safety of our students is always a concern. Given that this is coming up under the proposed projects, we do not have the same jurisdiction as the town, however we can’t cross the streams.

Mr. North stated that we should consider the safety of students.

Ms Walther noted that students should be safe on campus and coming to/from campus. We should join efforts with the town for safety issues.

Mrs. Russell shared that she knows three students who have been approached. She recognizes that we have to maintain safety for the students including to and from school. She speaks as a concerned citizen, she is very concerned about it. This would help bond us with the community if we had a statement out there. 

Mr. Hall shared that the community safety review is not intended to provoke any policy change but is a facilitating group that will collect information. The next steps would be to review the data and identify the next steps for the town. The point of the process isn’t to come up with a new set of policies. 

Mr. Christie asked Mr. DeBalsi what thoughts came to his mind about the work or direction of the district safety committee related to this topic. Mr. DeBalsi said they will be meeting the first week of June and it would be an important discussion. Generally, an abutter can ask a developer to address any concern, especially the safety of the children coming and going. Typically the developer must meet abutter needs. He would like to ask the HPD, who are represented on the safety committee. 

Mr. North noted that the Haven and Twin Pines have been slow in reaching out to the district. He agrees that they have a responsibility to talk to us, and they haven’t. 

Mr. Hall noted that the Haven project was the context of the neighbor's concerns. All of these issues are present even without the project. There is plenty to discuss without limiting it to the project, there are many unrelated topics. 

Mr. Christie noted that there are 1700 students spread out in schools throughout the town. This is a global issue. What is going on in the neighborhood is a concern. 

Mr. DeBalsi reported that the Executive Director, Michael Redman,  of the Haven has scheduled a meeting with him, next Tuesday. This will be a topic.

Ms Walther asked about the capacity of the project during the engagement meeting, this is addressing the needs of the population in the community. Mr. Redman noted that the Haven has some work to do with the district now, aside from the expansion. What is missing if the students aren’t safe in the community? What makes us good partners?

Mrs. Russell shared information from the Hartford Community Coalition’s recent meetings. Safety is the number one concern shared by community members. 

Mr. Christie said HCOREI has taken the lead on the safety assessment.
o   Facilities
Mr. North shared the committee has had two meetings, in the initial phase, will be creating an order of projects, consideration of operation budget vs bonding, potential work at Christian Street could use some grant funding, other projects at HMS/HHS/HACTC under consideration.
o   RAB
Mr. Merrill was not able to attend the last meeting. Mr. DeBalsi shared that the director had shared the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment data, HACTC is in the top tier on tech centers in the state and the nation, May 25th online senior awards ceremony, accepted students for next year will visit soon, hiring a literacy integrationists for next year, student presentations were shared at the meeting.

Mr. Christie asked Mr. Merrill and Mr. DeBalsi to take a 35,000 foot view on S 11, which has a large pot of money to be spent on tech centers. He’d like Hartford to be at the front of the line. 
o   Policy
Mr. Merrill shared that the librarians in the district are concerned about various groups in the country questioning collections. They have asked that there be a draft policy that would address these issues. Mr. Merrill drafted a document after reviewing resources from the American Library Association. The librarians are reviewing the draft. 
o   Finance
Mr. North suggested that the Finance Team compile data on any positions that have been funded by ESSER funds and a yield tax study. This would be helpful for the negotiation team. 

Mr. Christie will forward any updates from the state. Voting on the state $8.7 Billion budget will take place tomorrow. There will be changes that will impact HSD.  
o   HCC
Mrs. Russell shared that on June 15th there will be a Block Party, food and ice cream, 5-8PM, in the park, have been holding community meetings, will analyze the data and report back to the community, lunch program will start the week after school is over, TEEN committee- for teens to have more available activities after school and weekends, positive plans coming.

Mr. Christie noted there is state money available for after school activities.


Mrs. Russell shares information with the board, she will forward any information to community members, please ask.

          7.  Public Comments  

The public was invited to the online meeting using the link  https://zoom.us/j/97430755984.

Michelle Boleski, reminded the group that she was on the board for two terms, she is disappointed that when she reached out to the board and she has had no response, she asked the board to answer her when she emails. Safety: Today she saw people on Saunders Ave by the gate waiting to pick up kids instead of entering the parking lot, she suggested a note home to parents reminding them not to pick up there. She also shared a close accident of a student crossing Route 5 near the Mobil station, on the way to Cumbies, who was nearly hit and killed. The Haven: she has no trust in them and what they say to her, she has reviewed many permits with violations, this concerns her, 2015 First Emergency Shelter- no permits, many other additions not permitted. When she asked Michael Redman if he was a Hartford resident, he said yes, he’s not, he has an apartment here but is not a resident. She shared an experience her daughter encountered while visiting years ago. She reported this to the school. Nothing was done. Her daughter doesn’t like to visit. She can’t imagine what a thirteen year old girl feels like after an encounter.  She thinks having housing is good but not near a school, not here. There will be a meeting in two weeks. It could be a done deal. 

Kerry Heavisides joined because she is concerned about the Haven proposal. She thinks the safety of our children can never be addressed enough. She thanked the board for keeping that in mind. She shared that she and her husband are not in support of the growth of the Haven project and is happy to discuss the reasonings. Safety is a concern. She walks her dog regularly and has helped intervene in many instances. 

Mr. Christie noted that the engagement meeting was recorded and available. The board holds the safety of students first and foremost. 

Ms Walther thanked Michelle and Kerry for sharing their thoughts tonight. She stated it’s critical when you see something unsafe that you call the police. This gets it recorded. 

Mr. DeBalsi shared that Marie Alvin waited outside the meeting and wished to speak tonight but wasn’t able to stay. He will share information with the board from her. 

Mr. Christie noted that there are some instances in the board purview, there are some instances the district can follow up on. There may be some “safe routes'' money available. 

Mr. DeBalsi noted the police are at the funeral home on Taft’s Flat monitoring speed. He will look to see if there’s a crosswalk. 

Jess Bowen thanked the board for listening to the neighborhood concerns. They do call HPD when there are some situations. She wants to find the balance but things have been a lot worse in the last couple of weeks. 

Kerry Heavisides commented that the crosswalk near the high school is not working consistently. She reported this to the Dept of Transportation who said they will come look at it. Mr. DeBalsi will follow up with this. 


          8. Consent Agenda (Section 4 Policy GP 4)

Monitoring Reports (all in the packet online)

-        GP 2 Governing Style-tabled for next meeting

-        B/SR 2 Unity of Control-tabled for next meeting

-        EL 6 Emergency Succession

-        EL 7 Asset Protection- tabled for next meeting

-        EL 8 Compensation and Benefits

Meeting Minutes 

-        Engagement Meeting 4-27-2022
Appointments: Josh Richardson, HHS; Mikaela Eckler, DBS; Susannah Conway, MMS; Amanda Nelson, HHS 

Resignations: Bill Goldsworthy, HACTC; James Vezina, District


Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to approve the Consent Agenda with the changes noted, offering a welcome to the new staff members and a thank you to those leaving. Motion carried. 

-        HCOREI Committee Appointments: Joe Major, Miriam Wood, Pat Autilio
Mr. Major addressed the board, he thanked the board for considering him for the HCOREI committee. He served as the Selectboard representative during his term. He shared that this committee could serve as a conduit for the boards to work together. 

Mr. Autilio and Ms Wood introduced themselves to the board. 

Mr. Christie thanked the candidates for their interest.

Moved by Ms Walther, seconded by Mr. North, to ratify the HCOREI candidates, Joe, Miriam, and Pat, as the district representatives. Motion carried. 
          9. Next Meeting Agenda

     Tuesday, May 24th, 6PM, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Training with Dr. May Gannon, room across the hall. Mr. Christie asked Mr. DeBalsi to ask Dr. Gannon if that space would work. 

An invitation was sent out to the Selectboard and HCOREI members for the meeting. A link to the strategic plan was included with a suggestion of a review of the plan before the meeting. 

Mr. DeBalsi reminded the board that they would need to do his evaluation in the next two meetings. Mr. Christie said, yes he is aware of that. 


          10. Meeting Evaluation

The meeting evaluation was completed by Mr. North. The meeting was satisfactory. 


11. Adjournment

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to adjourn at 9:20 PM. Motion carried.


Respectfully submitted,

Cherrie Torrey



** School Board Engagement Meeting is Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 6:00 PM**

Town Hall Room # 2  Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Training 

with Dr. May Gannon