March 27, 2023

HSB Minutes 8-24-2022

Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Retreat/Meeting Minutes

August 24, 2022 @4:30 pm

Superintendent of Schools Office

Members Present: Kevin Christie, Peter Merrill, Nancy Russell, Russell North, Sydney Stillman

Administrators Present: Tom DeBalsi, Roy Hathorn, Julie Robinson

    1.  Call to Order  

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

Mr. DeBalsi introduced Julie Robinson, the new Director of Elementary Curriculum Instruction and assessment. 

Mr. Christie welcomed Ms Robinson to the district.

    2.  Review Agenda - Changes, Additions and Approval of Agenda 

No changes to the agenda. Mr. DeBalsi asked the board to consider what work they wanted to do with the Ends. Are you looking for specific progress on an individual End or real data on an indicator? It is the right time to look at them. Should you review the current Ends with the community or some may need to be embedded in another one? Community Engagement meetings would be a good place to start. 

Mr. Christie gave a brief summary of the Legislative Session regarding equity issues. 

3.  Ends Review and Discussion

Review Ends Policies for relevancy, interpretation and meaning 
Discuss potential edits and revisions of Ends with community input
Measuring student/school progress towards the Ends
Clarify Board needs and wants in relation to Ends reporting
Connecting the Ends to Our Work
Ms Robinson shared the school board Annual Ends Report survey results: The superintendent will report out to the community; Some items to report: multiple types of data, hard data over time and/or compared to other districts; more focus on outcomes rather than actions; and focus on the strengths and areas in which we can do better. Board members thought reporting out should be monthly to semi-annually, but all agreed that more reporting would be helpful. 

Remaining questions: Do our budget decisions impact/align with the Ends? Are the Ends still relevant? How does the community feel about them, do they know they exist? What is the role of the indicators?

Mr. Merrill said we want to have schools that prepare students to be successful, however everyone has a different opinion of what success is. There have been many activities in Hartford to try to identify what that is. We should use these and apply them to our programs and not to the individual students. What are we expecting the outcome to be, at the group level and not the individual?

Sydney reported that she and her peers do not want to recite the Ends policies. She cautioned having extra activities, after school time, because not all students have the academic drive, willingness to do it, or time. 

Mr. DeBalsi discussed the spectrum of students, from the very driven to unmotivated. The disparities between the families in the community is huge and that impacts students.

Mr. Hathorn introduced the board Ends activity, the board will review the Ends using a protocol sheet. Board members were asked which End they wanted to work on. 


Health and Well Being, Mrs. Russell/Sydney

They disagreed with most statements and used the TItanic as an example. There’s a lot on the surface but it goes a lot deeper than what is listed in the indicators. Many kids need help but don’t realize they need it or are afraid to go ask for help. Using this as an indicator puts a lot of responsibility on the child, too much pressure on the student.  Training for the staff to identify student needs would be helpful. K-2 coping skills seem to be a good starting base and the other grades build. 

Academic Excellence, Mr. North, Ms Robinson

As written there is a focus on high achievement in the core content, and should be changed to allow students to explore in many areas. Being able to apply that knowledge into your successful life is important. Through broad experiences students are able to achieve their goals. The title could be changed to “Learning Excellence” which takes the academic focus off and would promote a wider variety of learning experiences.

Citizenship/Global Awareness, Mr. Merrill, Mr. Christie

Students will demonstrate should be changed to students will develop an understanding and appreciation of how their actions integrate with the broader society, and will participate actively and positively with their school and community. 

Global Awareness, Mr. Debalsi, Mr. Hathorn

Discussion was inline with previous statements, focusing on local to world view, how they are scaffolded onto each other, what measurements would we use from a school point to the student scores or anecdotal evidence?


Other Topics for discussion or consideration
Act 77- Flexible Pathways, can update in a meeting about what the district is doing, Exhibition Night is an example of students sharing their high school experiences.
public communication- how does the board respond when someone has a concern, board should reply “we have received your communication” September/October mtg
Declaration of Inclusion- statewide initiative for all municipalities to adopt a statement: We are going to be welcoming. Windsor SE has the best working model of the declaration. 63 of 252 towns have adopted the statement. Each party determines how they will use it. Will look at samples in September. 
Party to Shelter project, Haven project- should be only as it pertains to the district, to be discussed at a future meeting
Amendments to Charter- the board reps need to report out to the board, September 14
communication and trust- perception of the public when a concern is made, see public communication above 
board development- specific board training requests, guest speakers, conferences? annual training, September 
legislative education- ways the board could do some advocacy for legislative action, is a responsibility of board members, important to know what is happening in education, updates available from VSBA
climate change commitments- signed document a couple years ago with the town, needs to be revisited at some point this year, could determine future facility improvements
meeting schedule- information needs to be out earlier, a suggestion of a board meeting in July to look at the big picture/policies or other hot topics
Mr. Hathorn asked the board about an available School Board Equity mini-grant, for up to $5,000. This grant would have to be written by a board member. This work could include a review of policies with an equity lens, completed by a hired person (law student). Mr. Merrill suggested reviewing policies through the Community Engagement meetings. Mrs. Russell said that the VSBA has a staff member who would review policies and could highlight policies that need to be rewritten. 
Sydney suggested asking the Athletic Leadership, Student Equity Committee, and Hope Happens Here groups to participate in the review/discussions. 

Mr. North volunteered to start the grant.

Mr. Hathorn shared a video highlighting Equity Centered Trauma Informed Education, Alex Shevrin Venet. The district staff is reading this book. 

    4. Executive Session 

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, pursuant to VSA 313a:(1)(B)  to have an executive session for the purpose of discussing a labor relation agreement with employees and 313a:(2) the negotiating or securing of real estate purchase or lease options and to enter into said Executive Session. Motion carried.

The board entered Executive Session at 8:15. 

The board came out of Executive Session at 8:55. 

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to allow the superintendent to investigate property acquisitions on behalf of the school board. Motion carried. 

5. Adjournment

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to adjourn at 9:03 PM. Motion carried.

Respectfully submitted, 

Cherrie Torrey



Next Regular School Board Meeting is scheduled for

Wednesday September 14, 2022 at 6:00PM at

 Hartford Town Hall