June 12, 2021

HSB Minutes 9-23-2020

Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Community Engagement Minutes

September 23, 2020 @ 6:00 pm

Online Meeting 


Members Present                                        AdministratorsPresent

Kevin Christie, joined during                     Tom DeBalsi

Peter Merrill

Nancy Russell

Russell North

Michelle Boleski


1.  Call to Order

-       Changes, Additions and Approval of Agenda  

Mr. North opened the meeting at 6:06 PM.

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Ms Boleski, to accept the agenda as presented, motion carried.

            2.  Community/Ownership Linkage (GP 3)

-       School Board Engagement/Ownership Linkage

Mr. DeBalsi discussed the document, Ownership LInkage, he shared with the board. He asked the board for suggestions. He is willing to draft an “in your lane” document based on the discussion. Clarification over the board/district was given by Mr. Christie and Mr. Merrill. Mr. North shared another example with an Ownership LInkage policy which we may want to use as a model. Ms Boleski discussed the importance of having a document to use defining the role of the board and the administration. GP2 and GP3 make reference to the board’s role, further clarification may be needed. Mr. Merrill discussed the second handout,     xxxxx, which includes what the board’s role and communication responsibilities are. Defining expectations of the administration is key. Mr. DeBalsi noted the two new staff members, Cathy Newton and Roy Hathorn, have helped with district communication.

Mr. Merrill stated all viewpoints are important, hearing from a diverse group of community members is important.

Ms Boleski suggested letting the community know what Policy Governance is and how the board operates. A graphic would be helpful in showing the process. She is interested in working with a facilitator to establish this. She made other suggestions of information that could be put on the board facebook page.

Mrs. Russell asked the board what they think the community members’ perception of the board is. She doesn’t think the public thinks the board is very receptive to their thoughts. Mr. North agreed. Mr. Christie shared an example of a parent discussion, noting the importance of understanding the process the board follows. He agreed that educating the public with information about how the board works is important.

Mr. Christie suggested identifying the next steps and then figure out how to get there. Setting goals and expectations with dates for completion with clarity of definitions is important. The district surveys have been well received, a subgroup of the board could develop one with final review from the whole board.

Mr. North suggested he and Ms Boleski work on this, with Mr. DeBalsi’s help, to develop a structure, means, boundaries, and a draft of a three year plan. This would be presented at the October 28, 2020 meeting.

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to direct Mr. North and Ms Boleski to go forth and create a draft program and communication around the linkage with the board and community and how to engage community members by the second October meeting. Motion carried, unanimous.


-       Clarification of GP 7 Committee Work

Mr. Merrill reviewed his work with the Policy Committee to review GP7, committee work as it relates to HCOREI. When this was established jointly with the town it was understood that this committee would operate long term. GP7 places limitations on committee work and state statutes prohibit the board from handing off some of their duties. The “charge” for HCOREI still stands. Mr. Merrill sees no specific concerns about the committee’s work. He read the committee charge to the board which includes 7 statements.

Aileen and Mary have met with Mr. Hathorn and Mr. DeBalsi to review the Equity Report, discussed how best to meet the goals, and how to move forward.

Mr. Merrill asked that HCOREI meeting minutes be provided to the board in the packet. He also noted that the committee would be welcome to make presentations to the board.

Mr. Christie suggested going forward that any communication from HCOREI be sent to the superintendent and the board chair who will send it along to the board members.

Mr. DeBalsi noted the need for clarifying when Aileen is assisting as a community member and when she is acting as HCOREI chairperson.

Mr. Christie thanked Ms Boleski for her work with the board on this topic and her work with HCOREI. This is a difficult and powerful topic and her work is appreciated.
-       Racial Equity and Inclusion Strategic Planning

Mr. DeBalsi reviewed the district timeline with the Equity Report, this came right in March before the COVID shutdown. It was put on hold and has recently been put back in the planning stage.
Mr. Hathorn worked with Aileen in preparing for staff meetings. She reviewed his materials and made suggestions for improvement. She has shared many resources.

Mr. DeBalsi shared his experience with the topic, more expertise is needed. There are many experts in the field.

Mr. DeBalsi informed the board and the public of a new page on the district website: Why Hartford? Equity and Inclusion tab. Mr. Hathorn explained some of the posts on the site. He has worked with the student group to review the topics as well as Tessa Johnson, district website coordinator. This will be added to the board Facebook page.

Mr. DeBalsi reported that the policy posters have been put up in all the schools.


            3.  Public Comments 

The public was invited to attend using this link,  https://zoom.us/j/97430755984, meeting ID = 974 3075 5984.

The Board welcomed public comments, however this was not a time for discussion. The board was interested in hearing comments, concerns, and suggestions from the public.

Ann Raynolds, member of HCOREI, spoke about the committee’s work. The strategic plan has not been discussed at a committee meeting. She asked for a copy of GP7, Ms Boleski sent it to her. She asked about the charge that Mr. Merrill read, yes it’s the charge of the committee. She said there are two school board representatives on the committee, they can bring any information back.

Mr. DeBalsi shared the COVID link on the district website. It now includes a “submit a question or concern”  section. This is one way for the community to ask a question of the superintendent who can answer the question once.

Mr. DeBalsi gave a brief update on the opening of schools. The biggest struggle is with the cleaning, due to limited workforce. Mr. Hathorn noted the amount of rule following with the students is spot on right now. Getting supplies and equipment is tight. Mr. DeBalsi thanked the community for their response to the needs of the district and their generous donations. 

Mrs. Russell invited the board on October 6, 2020, 10:00AM, Lyman Park, WRJct. There will be a truckload of masks. Some will be distributed to the school district. 


            4. Meeting Evaluation

The meeting evaluation was completed by the board who agreed that it was a productive meeting.


5.  Adjournment

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to adjourn at 8:14PM, motion carried.


Respectfully submitted,

Cherrie Torrey



Next Regular School Board Meeting is Wednesday, October 14, 2020 at 6:00 PM.