June 12, 2021

HSB Minutes 12-9-2020

Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Meeting Minutes

December 9, 2020 @ 6:00 pm

Online Meeting  


Members Present                                          Administrators Present

Kevin Christie                                                  Tom DeBalsi

Peter Merrill                                                    Cathy Newton

Nancy Russell                                                 Roy Hathorn

Russell North

Michelle Boleski

Dylan Morse

Katie Trombley


          1.  Call to Order

-        Changes, Additions and Approval of Agenda  
Mr. Christie called the meeting to order at 6:02 PM.

Mr. Christie thanked those who attended the Social Equities training meeting this morning.

Mr. DeBalsi asked to add a teacher appointment and move the student report to earlier in the meeting.

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to approve the agenda as amended, motion carried.


          2. Global Ends Reporting (Section 1 Policy EP)

-        Review of District Ends Policies in Relation to Current Events
     Mr. DeBalsi reminded the board that the Ends remain very relevant to what’s going on in the world with Covid, it shows that we all are interconnected and need to take care of each other. 

3. Board Professional Development (Section 4 Policy GP 9)

Mr. Christie told the board that the district will be giving some trainings, all board members are welcome to participate.


          4. Governance Process (Section 4 Policy GP 2)

-        Legislative Advocacy
     Mr. DeBalsi reported he will attend the SE Regional Superintendents meeting on Friday, via Zoom. They will meet with their legislative reps. Topics include: mental health support, finance, internet connectivity, and anti-racism.

     Mr. Christie told the group that the state auditor is concerned about the efinance program. He requested that a bill be drafted to stop this practice.
-        FY22 Budget Draft 2
     Jacob Vezina presented draft 2, there aren’t many changes. HIghlights include: support staff 2.85% increase, PreK tuition $91 increase, total change of $883,000 increase. Health insurance increases are due to change in the way the district is reimbursing the deductibles per state negotiations with teachers. He is waiting on the CLA number, but is hopeful that the number will go up due to the tight housing market. This impacts the budget increase percentage. Mr. North cautioned the group that the CLA might go down because the houses are selling for more than they are assessed. Mr. Merrill told the board that the HACTC house sold before it went on the market.

     Jim Vezina highlighted the individual building expense sheets and per student cost. He highlighted the special ed costs, including the federal grants. 

Mr. DeBalsi reminded the group that special education services have been front loaded in the elementary schools to provide services to students at an earlier age. Jim also noted that the Wilder bond payment is off set with revenues coming from the RAP and HARP programs.

Mr. DeBalsi cautioned against comparing staff expenses as they fluctuate depending on the seniority. He also noted that the student population counts are off due to the pandemic. The preschool numbers are down, approximately 75 students. There have also been families moving in. Given the COVID distancing restraints some students are not placed where they want to be. 

     Mr. Merrill asked about the average costs for teachers, Jim Vezina responded that it includes pay and all benefits. 

     Mr. DeBalsi asked the board to think about what they wanted the budget number to be. The finance team came with a low percentage change, 1.9% increase. They anticipate carrying over some funds to help off-set the tax impact.  

     Ms Boleski reminded the group that the community is hurting. She saw businesses closed this past Sunday, and some with few patrons. She also reminded that unemployment benefits may run out for many soon. Please keep this in mind when considering the budget. 

     Mr. Christie thanked Jim, Jacob, and Tom for their work on the budget. 
-        Town/School Annual Meeting Cycle Draft 1 
     Mr. DeBalsi shared the document for the board’s information. One correction, Saturday February 27, 2021 for Town Meeting Day. Keep in mind that the first meeting is January 12, 2021. All meetings will be held on ZOOM.
-        2021-22 School Year Calendar Draft 1
     Mr. DeBalsi shared the draft. It is basically the same calendar as this year. He welcomes any comments. He has received comments about starting later. Traditionally school starts the third week in August. There also is not a two week break at the holidays. No action is necessary. 
-        Race and Equity Executive Limitations Policy - Second Reading
     EL10 Second Reading

     Ms Boleski asked where the information about support for staff getting push back is. Mr. Merrill responded that it is included in bullet 5, “Provide an environment that supports…”

     Moved by Mr. North, seconded by Ms Boleski, to accept the second reading of EL10 Race and Equity Executive Limitation, motion carried. 
-        Diversity and Equity Coordinator Job Description
     This job description was written by the Administrative Team and reviewed by the Equity Committee. It is very detailed. This would be a new position in the district. Mr. Hathorn stated the need to move the strategic plan forward, this person would do that. Mrs. Newton stated she feels the lengthy description is evidence of the longevity and importance of the position. Board members commented on the stress of racism in the description and should include all groups. Ms Boleski asked about the hiring committee, she asked that it include a variety of representation. Dylan stated he thinks it will be helpful for the diverse student population, just identifying this makes a better environment for people. Mr. Christie asked for a straw poll showing support of the effort. By a show of thumbs up, the Hartford School Board is in support of hiring a DIversity and Equity Coordinator. 
-        Facility Projects – OQS/DBS Roofs, Covell House, BEST Room
     Mr. DeBalsi stated that he is giving the board the information about the different projects, it will be their decision whether to move forward or not. Mr. Merrill echoed earlier comments about the state of the community, but feels that the roofs need to be repaired to maintain the buildings. The other projects could be put on hold for now but if there is a surplus in the budget they could be done. Mr. North, Ms. Boleski, and Mrs. Russell agreed. Mr. DeBalsi will get started on finalizing the roof projects.  

     OQS/DBS Roofs

     Covell House

     BEST Room
-        Monitoring Reports 
o   GP 7 Board Committee Principles

o   B/SR 3 Accountability of the Superintendent
                    No action on the Monitoring Reports.


          5.  Public Comments  

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

No one from the public was present. 

Ms Boleski attended the Town COVID Committee meeting, Windsor County has 60 cases with Hartford having the most cases in the county. They have posted the Masks on Hartford campaign. On December 24th, 6PM, there will be a  bell ringing in the communities. 

Mrs. Russell announced that Santa and Mrs Claus will be at a drive-by event on Sat., Dec. 12 at the Welcome Center in White River Jct. 

Dylan asked when and where he can find the links to the meeting. Mr. DeBalsi referred him to the district website, there is a CATV link. It is posted within a couple of days of the meeting.

Mr. Merrill shared his love of Vermont, he thanked the people of the community, because of you we are able to keep safe and keep our schools open.



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

-        Student Representative Report      
Dylan reported on his survey asking students about the school board: he’s had about 100 responses, balanced through the grades, students want to have more of an influence than they currently have, only a few students watch the meetings, and not many students know what is expected of them.

Dylan will broadcast how to watch the meetings during or after. He is setting up a daily report for the HHS announcements. He will send out a second survey about remote learning. He will ask questions about how students are feeling, i.e. safety.

Mr. Christie asked Dylan about the possibility of Dylan and Katie meeting with the Student Councils. Dylan is a moderator on one of them so he has influence. Katie said the councils are busy. 

Katie reported that she thinks they should start looking for student representatives for next year since she and Dylan are seniors. She suggested recruiting upper and lower classmen. 

     Mr. DeBalsi asked that the next board survey be linked with the high school students.

-        Superintendent’s Report
     Mr. Hathorn updated the board on the Equity Committee, they are reviewing the policy and procedures, and worked with the strategic plan to identify trainings and practices. 

Mrs. Newton said the work is very exciting and it is popping up in all kinds of places. Just today the coaches had a meeting and discussed coaching through diversity. She thanked the board for supporting the coordinator position, this will make significant progress. 

          7. Consent Agenda (Section 4 Policy GP 4)

-        Meeting Minutes – 11/10/2020, 11/24/2020 
Appointment: Molly Benson, Special Educator HARP, would be able to start after holidays

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mrs. Russell, to accept the consent agenda and welcome the new staff member to the district, motion carried.

          8. Next Meeting Agenda

                    COVID reimbursements

                    Approve Monitoring Reports GP7 and B/SR 3


          9. Meeting Evaluation

The meeting evaluation was completed by Dylan, the meeting was satisfactory. 


          10.  Executive Session

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by  Mrs. Russell to enter Executive Session (1 VSA 313): c. (3) the appointment or employment or evaluation of a public officer or employee, provided that the public shall make a final decision to hire or appoint a public officer or employee in an open meeting and shall explain the reasons for its final decision during the open meeting; I move that the Board enter into Executive Session to discuss the evaluation of a public employee under the provisions of Title 1, Section 313(a) (1) of the Vermont Statutes.

The board entered Executive Session at 8:42 PM.

The board came out of Executive Session at 9:29. 


The board discussed taking action on executive session discussion at a subsequent meeting.

11. Adjournment

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to adjourn the meeting at 9:31, motion carried.


Respectfully submitted,

Cherrie Torrey





School Board Engagement Meeting is Tuesday, December 22, 2020 at 6:00 PM


Next Regular School Board Meeting is Wednesday, January 13, 2021 at 6:00 PM