Hartford Public Schools rates positive superintendent performance
By Jon Bisnett The Hartford School Board held their annual Superintendent performance review in closed session during the prior Work Study meeting. Board Secretary Jason Meachum read the rating of “Effective” into the record for approval during the Business Meeting on December 20, followed by comments from Board President Ben Chambers complimenting Superintendent Andy Hubbard for his ongoing good work in collaboration with staff and students. No compensation adjustment or contract extension was mentioned in connection with the positive evaluation.
Business Office Business Manager Rebecca Drake reports business as usual with just two notable expenses in the lasts 30 days, one being the costs of the annual financial audit with Hungerford Nichols, (formerly Gerbel and Company PC,) and a unit ventilator replacement installation in the adult education wing, the cost of which falls under an insurance claim. Secretary Meachum queried as to how the Hungerford Nichols charges compared to prior Gerbel costs. Drake said other than an additional charge to audit the closing of the construction bond, the cost was the same. Responding to Meachum’s additional question as to how the audit process went, Drake stated that mostly the same H-N staff were involved and overall went smoothly, but there is always room for improvement and the possibility to explore options. Policy Policy updates from Neola Educational Consultants were approved as recommended, following their third reading. Neola provides policy update recommendations every six months, keeping the district in tune with ever-changing legislation and policy on a contractual basis. The district has two candidates willing to serve on the Van Buren Intermediate School District PAC, Parent Advisory Council. Courtnee McGrew and Christine Irwin received unanimous board approval to represent the district.
Meeting Dates President Chambers addressed the question of changing board meetings to the first and third Monday. Stating that not one board member had replied to his informal poll, the matter would be deferred to the January Organizational Meeting.
Reports Trustee Jason Meachum reported the Building and Grounds Committee is working with a district-wide wish list from which it will determine priorities for 2019 capital expenditures. Several projects are in the wings following a suspension of capital outlays during the majority of 2018. Trustee Lisa Johnson says the Public Relations and Marketing Committee has now formally identified two viable firms for consideration by the board at the January Business Meeting. Most recent discussion found the board quite divided on both the overall cost of the services along with a lack of specific goals and expectations given respect to the return on investment.
Superintendent’s report Superintendent Andy Hubbard began by praising the vocal and instrumental music programs with Christmas concert crowds numbering in excess of 400-500 both evenings. He specifically complimented Choir Director Alyson Wendzel and Band Director Derek Clements for their students’ performances and the growth in both programs. The Red Arrow Elementary Building sale has been hampered by an inability for the Library to get Title Insurance.
A second search firm has been engaged by the district to verify deeds and documents which go back to the mid-1800s. In any case, the Title issue has slowed the process, but is far from insurmountable. Hubbard noted the high school gymnasium will be shut down during the holiday break for the installation of new high-output energy-efficient LED lighting. The gym flooring will be receiving a no-cost do-over from the company that most recently refinished it, due to several quality issues that are to be corrected, again at no charge to the district. Andy applauded Redwood Elementary staff going the extra mile for the holidays by serving curbside coffee and cocoa to parents during student drop-off, and of course being decked out in holiday costumes. Hubbard visited the December Hartford City Council meeting, noting their agenda items of an exemplary audit, blight and managing the statewide approval of Proposal 1. Andy congratulated the High School National Honor Society on another highly successful Jail & Bail fund-raiser to provide the means to take 20 deserving students shopping to purchase gifts their families would not have had otherwise. Heidi Macias and her NHS students are to be commended for their efforts. In closing, Hubbard spoke of conversations with the City Manager regarding signage for the schools to direct visitors to the various district facilities, similar to signs already in place listing the rec fields and casino. Hubbard has the name of the company who made the current signs. The city will install the signs at no cost, with the district bearing the cost to have them made. Student Representative Senior Marisol Robles brings news from the student body starting with the High School Student Council working hand in hand with the Hartford Lions to prepare holiday food baskets for the needy. Winterfest plans are well under way and a Blood Drive will be hosted at the high school. Disciplinary Hearing President Chambers called for a motion to take the board into closed session for the purpose of a student disciplinary hearing. Issues of privacy of student records are protected under Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, FERPA. Under FERPA the Tri-City Record cannot and will not report any student names or specifics of the event in question. With full respect to FERPA, the TCR was unable to verify if this student hearing was a direct result of the alleged threat that prompted a lockdown just a week ago. Upon return from closed session Secretary Jason Meachum read the resolution into the record stating, “Based on the evidence provided… the student did violate the Student Code of Conduct… considering the seriousness of the matter… posed a safety risk… the student is permanently expelled from the district.” President Chambers added, “We have over 1,300 students and staff in our charge and the collective safety of all must be our first concern. We wish you well and sincerely hope you will take advantage of the alternative educational opportunities that are still available to you.” Wishing all a Happy Holiday, President Chambers adjourned the meeting with the board next scheduled for the Annual Organizational Meeting to be held on Wednesday, January 9, 2019.