June 12, 2021

HSB Minutes 1-13-2021

Hartford Board of School Directors

School Board Meeting Minutes

January 13, 2021 @ 6:00 pm

Online Meeting  


Members Present                                          Administrators Present

Kevin Christie                                                  Tom DeBalsi

Peter Merrill                                                    Roy Hathorn

Russell North                                                  Cathy Newton

Michelle Boleski                          

Dylan Morse

Katie Trombley


1.  Call to Order

-        Changes, Additions and Approval of Agenda  
Mr. Christie called the meeting to order at 6:03 PM.

Mr. DeBalsi asked to add appointments and leaves of absence to the Consent Agenda.

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, 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 group that of Ends 3.0, Citizenship, given the events in Washington, we are preparing our students for the world they will live in. Our staff is discussing current events with students. The policy is very relevant for the world we live in.

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

Mr. North and Ms Boleski met to discuss preparing for training for the new school board member. He suggested ordering the board reading material and highlighting some additional readings. Mr. DeBalsi suggested working with Mr. Christie to prepare materials and help to train the new person. He also suggested that a fellow member contact the new person before the meeting to review the packet. Ms Boleski suggested someone mentor the new board member. She thanked Mr. Christie with all the help he’s given her over the years. Mr. Merrill volunteered to mentor the new member. 

Essential topics for training: budget, policy, open meeting law, committees (current or sub)

Ms Boleski asked about a board training from the state for the superintendent’s evaluation.


4. Governance Process (Section 4 Policy GP 2)

-        Legislative Advocacy
Mr. DeBalsi reported that he met with the superintendents and legislators from Windsor County and the southeast part of the state. There was a wide variety of topics. They meet with the Commissioner of Ed weekly. This week’s topic is how to make up the material loss for students. 

Mr. Christie reported that the town meeting piece of legislation moved to the Senate today.

Mr. Christie discussed EFinance, a system in which all districts use the same system in reporting to the state and vice versa. He reported that there is a piece of legislation asking for an advisory group to clean up this program. 
-        COVID Reimbursements
Mr. DeBalsi reported on the funding expenses. He asked the finance team and Mrs. Newton to highlight  this. Jake Vezina shared a spreadsheet showing the funding, approximately one million dollars in claims. The Efficiency Vermont grant had a cut off of Dec 31, additional money may become available (promised money at Wilder for equipment, very frustrating, did not qualify). Other grants, ESSER, $255,000, and GERE, $157,000, were awarded to the district. Mr. DeBalsi reported that almost all, or a significant amount, for safety/cleaning measures has been funded by these sources. Mrs. Newton discussed funding for additional technology, incase of the need for remote learning. WIFI capabilities have been increased in/around the buildings. Chromebooks continue to be on backorder. Tents, plexiglass, and additional furniture for classrooms were needed.
-        FY22 Budget Draft 3
Mr. DeBalsi cautioned that there may be some additional minor changes due to the legislature’s action. Jim Vezina noted that the state’s equalized student number and CLA information is often late in coming. On the expense side they have removed the $1M for OQS/DBS roofs, the negotiated contracts add $900,000. On the revenue side, the fund balance is $675,000 (amount carried over from current year).

Jake Vezina presented the tax page: equalized pupil is 1368.19, 1.7% tax increase. Per pupil expenditure $17,294.88, 2.5% reduction from last year. 

The student number dropped more than the previous year. Mr. DeBalsi said the most student loss is in the pre-K program (.48 in the student count). Last year there were 160 pre-K students.

CLA 1.95% decrease, 93.33.

The yields, which drive the taxes, won’t be locked in until later in the year, as late as May.

Mr. Merrill asked about increases due to housing sales. Mr. DeBalsi replied that the OQS population has increased. The student numbers were lower in the fall and have been growing since. 

Ms Boleski reminded the group that the ripple effects of COVID will be with us for a long time. She thanked the finance team for their work with the budget.

Mr. North asked about the status of the 2020 audit, what is the surplus? Jim Vezina answered  projected $1.3-1.5M. The COVID reimbursements are still being monitored for last year. Mr. North further asked about the need for borrowing to cover expenses. Jim responded that John Clerkin, District Treasurer, is working with the town to make sure the tax payments are done in a timely manner to avoid the need for any borrowing. Mr. Christie talked with the auditor, Jan 25 projected draft of the audit. Mr. North further asked about the fund balance last year, should we be using more of the surplus for the roof repairs?

Mr. DeBalsi suggested moving forward with the budget numbers presented tonight. If the surplus is more than projected tonight, the board could take additional action later. 

Mr. Christie suggested identifying a band for the budget expense. Mr. Merrill stated he’d rather have a larger reserve fund in the event that there is some unknown expense, COVID related or other, or inability to collect taxes. Mr. North suggested going with the budget as presented with an up to amount to be reallocated if needed. Jim reminded the group that the town has the legal right to borrow money, (per John Clerkin). The reserve amount has to be allocated at the end of the year. 

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to accept the draft #3, FY 22 budget as presented,  $40, 966,683, equalized per pupil spending of $17, 294.88 (decrease of 2.5% from current year), increase to tax rate of 1.7%. Motion carried.
-        Town/School Annual Meeting Update and Warnings
Lisa O’Neil, Town Clerk, discussed the memo that the town clerks received today. The Governor asked for a mass mailing of absentee ballots. She noted that the Select Board acted last night and moved the two questions typically acted on during the Saturday meeting to be on the Australian ballot. She said her office will be doing a push on social media and other media to notify the public that in-person Australian ballot voting will take place 7AM to 7PM on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.

Mr. DeBalsi asked Ms O'Neil if the school board has to have a motion to move the motions to the Australian ballot. She answered that it was the cleanest way to do it and recommended the board act on this tonight. 

The town is  waiting for a joint Zoom meeting number, these will be listed on the top of the warnings. CATV will coordinate this.

Mr. Merrill asked Ms O’Neil about the usual discussion of the rate of pay. She stated that the board would have to put a number in for their pay on the warrant.

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to move the salary motion from the floor meeting to the Australian ballot, and to further set the compensation for board members attending meetings $75/meeting, the board chair additional $300/year, the board clerk additional $150/year. Motion carried.

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Ms Boleski, to move the amended town warning and associated budget and approve them, further Mr. DeBalsi will review the signatory method with the district’s attorney. The warning will include a Zoom number. Motion carried.

Mr. DeBalsi asked that the warnings be read. Dylan read the first warning. Katie read the second warning.
-        2021-22 School Year Calendar Draft 2
     Mr. DeBalsi said there are no changes to the calendar from last meeting. 

     Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North,  to approve the calendar for the 2021-22 school year, motion carried. 
-        Jericho School House Deed Changes
     Mr. DeBalsi shared with the board that the Jericho Community Club has now become the Jericho Community Club Incorporated. There is a quick claim deed for the one room schoolhouse to make this name change. The district attorney and their attorney have both recommended this action. 

     Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to approve the changes to the deed for the Jericho schoolhouse and the superintendent enter into the quick claim on the board’s behalf, motion carried.
-        Approve GP 7 and B/SR 3 
     Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to approve the monitoring reports for GP7 and B/SR3, motion carried.

5.  Public Comments  

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

Mr. Merrill publicly expressed his sadness on learning that Chief Kasten will be leaving. He further expressed gratitude for all the things that Chief Kasten did for the community and the school district, including the school resource officer. 

Mr. Christie asked Mr. Merrill and Mr. DeBalsi to draft language for a proclamation from the school board, and have Mr. DeBalsi have a plaque made in his honor. Mr. DeBalsi echoed his sentiments. He will prepare this for the next meeting.

Ms Boleski asked what the district has done to address mental health issues for students and staff. She also asked that the school board be on the Alert Now calls and other communications.


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

-        Student Representative Report         
Dylan, students are doing finals this week, second semester starts Tuesday, winter sports practice- masked, no contact, senior class council have been exploring alternatives for senior class trip and what to do with funds raised

Katie, nothing to add, Dylan covered it all.

Mr. Christie asked the students about what they are hearing about mental health. Katie said everyone is complaining about being tired. Dylan said one of his finals asked about students’ feelings. Mr. DeBalsi said the district has completed a student survey (Panorama) around their social/emotional state. Katie volunteered to join the committee as having a student representative would be informative.
-        Superintendent’s Report
Mr. DeBalsi reported: staff allowed to work remotely when not needed for students, inservice days Thursday/Friday-done remotely, Monday is a holiday, district has done tremendous in keeping students/staff safe, have had cases but overall done well, concerned about roll-out of vaccine- why are teachers not in a higher bracket, commends everyone about following the rules and being careful in order to provide a great education, thank you to the board for the work tonight, all board members are now in Infinite Campus for announcements


7. Consent Agenda (Section 4 Policy GP 4)

-        Meeting Minutes – 12/9/2020, 12/22/2020

-        Appointments
Amanda Nelson, HHS

Josh Richardson, HHS
-        Leaves of absence
John Mitchell, HHS

Anne MacDonnell-Doton, HHS

Moved by Mr.Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to accept the Consent Agenda, accept the appointments, and approve the leaves, motion carried.

8. Next Meeting Agenda

          Mental Health work (Community Engagement Meeting)

          HCOREI, guidance for committee work, expectations


9. Meeting Evaluation

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


          10.  Adjournment

Moved by Mr. Merrill, seconded by Mr. North, to adjourn the meeting at 9:02.


Respectfully submitted, 

Cherrie Torrey



Next School Board Engagement Meeting is Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 6:00 PM


Next Regular School Board Meeting is Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 6:00 PM