April 14, 2024

HSB Minutes 10-26-2022

Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Community Engagement Meeting Minutes

October 26, 2022 @ 6:00 pm

In-Person at Hartford Town Hall and Online (Zoom) Meeting  

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

Administrators Present: Tom DeBalsi, Roy Hathorn, Dr. Julie Robinson

    1.  Call to Order 

Changes, Additions and Approval of the Agenda  

Mr. Christie called the meeting to order at 6:03 PM.

Mr. DeBalsi asked to switch the Ends and Capital Projects order.

Mr. Merrill noted that the Executive Session is for a grievance matter.

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

Mr. Christie turned the meeting over to Mr. North to lead the meeting.

    2.  Community Engagement Topics

    Ends Revisions and Progress

Mr. North reminded that group that The Ends Policies were adopted in 2008, identifying what the graduates of Hartford should have. There are some that need to be changed. The Ends are also tied to the budget.

Dr. Robinson shared some background work with the Ends from the August 2022 board retreat. Taking the six current Ends and consolidating into possibly three was discussed as many are overlapping. The goal is to share with the board in January 2023 with the work to be completed by June 2023. There will be a piloting report on Academic Excellence and Health and Well-Being with data shared three times this year. The suggested reporting time would follow assessment times. Dr. Robinson said that the two focus areas this year were selected because they are the areas that students have shown the greatest needs. 

Mr. Hathorn noted that sharing the information out three times during the year is more timely.

Mr. Christie said that having the data presented would be helpful. He shared the process that was followed when the Ends were developed. He suggested inviting Chris Sneddon and Gabrielle Lucke, who worked extensively on the Ends, to a future meeting.

Dr. Robinson shared the Vt AOE Portrait of a Graduate. There are 6 areas which are closely aligned to the Hartford Ends Policies. Each includes indicators.

Mr. DeBalsi reminded the board that they have asked in the past for more information on the Ends. Identifying two areas was important. The NAEP data that was released this week concurs that these are the two crucial areas, specifically math scores were of concern. This would help identify what budgeting needs there would be. The alignment of the work to the budget shows the commitment. 

Mr. Christie shared the importance of identifying the focused Ends and the board’s clear support of the work. Anyone who looks at the budget can look back and see what the priorities are. 

Mr. North asked about the February board meeting date, making sure that the meetings are in advance of the public meetings. The board will meet on February 8, 2023.

    Capital Projects Planning

Mr. North shared the Capital Project committee work. He noted there are a few projects that have been discussed for the past few years, the roofs at DBS and OQS and the BEST room at HACTC. Additional items include the high school bathrooms, the high school locker rooms, enhanced performance and office space. 

Mr. DeBalsi noted that the pandemic has complicated some of the project work, with contractor and supply availability. Being good stewards is important for the district, not putting off some of the important work too far out. Addressing the age of the facilities and getting areas up to current expectations would be included. A fire system study would be included.

Mr. Christie shared that the facility work has been studied in the past. 

Mr. DeBalsi said they could put together a work plan for what the district needs to do for the next 20-25 years. Staying ahead of the work to avoid a mega-bond would be important. Having all projects identified in one place would be nice. He shared that the Department of Ed has done a survey of all the districts asking about facility work. There are several districts that have large projects on the books.

Mr. Merrill asked about security issues, has there been any discussion about what could be done to enhance that? What is the likelihood that funds from the state would be available? It makes sense that safety is one more factor to consider.

Mr. North responded that there are some security issues with the multiple gym entrances and amount of windows in that area. The district may have some “shovel ready” projects for the time when funds are ready. The board should consider having the Facility Planning Committee meet regularly so a living document is updated.

Mr. Christie noted having “shovel ready” projects often get funding and having the Safety Committee active is helpful.

Mr. DeBalsi shared that the Safety Committee meets monthly. Many items have been done to secure the entrances.

Mr. Doug Heavisides shared that his biggest concern is the district image. There are great facilities. The list of work is sobering. He wants to have a working flow sheet available to the public so when the time comes there is no surprise. Surprises don’t go well in the town, when no one is able to explain the work, it goes down when it shouldn’t. 

Mr. Christie thanked Mr. Heavisides for his comments. He referenced the board pages that include many discussions about facility work.


Mr. North said the board needs to be better at getting the word out about meeting topics. The board packet includes a “work plan” document which has a list of topics for the community engagement (linkage meeting). The plan includes any reports that the board or superintendent has to complete. 

Mr. Hathorn shared the document. 

The Ends reporting dates will be incorporated into the document. Mr. DeBalsi will update the document.

Mr. North invited the community to share as well. These engagement meetings should be interactive. 

Schedule of Community Engagement Meetings
Typically held on the 4th Wednesday of each month

Board Responsibilities and Authority; Complaint/Issue Resolution Process
Mr. North asked for clarification on this topic. As board members all have been approached with a variety of topics and parent/community concerns. The community needs to understand that single board members can’t “get things done”.

Mr. Merrill noted that the board operates under the direction of the district policies. The board is not in charge of the day-to-day operations.  Most concerns fall under this. The board member can remind the community member of the chain of command. The board is the independent judge and may hear the issue as it moves to them in the chain. 

Mrs. Russell asked about putting this in the parent handbook. She suggested having board members attend PTA meetings to share the board’s work. Being open and clear of how this works is important. She also asked to consider the audience, not all could understand a document.

Mr. DeBalsi replied yes it could be included in the parent handbook, as well as the student and staff handbooks. Getting all the facts from the concern is important. There are also times when laws impact what can be done or said. 

Mr. Christie shared having a clear process of addressing community/family concerns is important. Communication and education is key. A flow chart might be the best way to show the process.

Video Promotion - Student Equity
Mr. North shared that the board viewed the movie Listen Up at the VSBA Fall Conference. 

Mrs. Russell said she would like to present this to the public. There would need to have mental health clinicians available at the showings to help with the highly emotional topics. The preplanning of how this will be shown and how to use it in the district will be important. The issues are not going away. She gave a personal experience that this film could have helped with, having a way to share a difficult situation.

Mrs. Russell shared that all board members and the superintendent attended both days of the VSBA conference, the only district with all in attendance! She shared her pride with this accomplishment.

Mr. Merrill concurred that the subject matter was a downer but the way it was presented was uplifting. 

Mr. DeBalsi will work with his team to best figure out how to present this in Hartford. The author has supporting materials available. Is it a student activity? A community activity? Mr. DeBalsi will come to the next meeting with a plan.

Mr. Christie said all this work is important. He gave a personal experience that highlighted discrimination. Showing the film is important. We need to show this in the community.

    3.  Public Engagement 

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

No hands were up in the audience via Zoom.

4.  Executive Session will be needed for the discussion of a grievance.

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to hold an Executive Session to discuss a grievance matter, pursuant to 1 VSA 313 (a) (1) (D). Motion carried.

The board went into Executive Session at 7:34 PM.

The board came out of Executive Session at 7:47 PM.

No action was taken.

5.  Adjournment

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to adjourn the meeting at 7:50 PM. Motion carried.

Respectfully submitted,

Cherrie Torrey


*Next Regular School Board Meeting is November 9, 2022,     

6:00 PM at Hartford Town Hall.