Parents speak at the Hartford Joint 1 board meeting of the temporary coordinator position

Several residents of the Hartford Joint 1 School District (which serves kindergarten through eighth grade students in the city of Hartford and several surrounding areas) spoke at the June 28 Hartford Joint I School Board meeting about a report from media last month that documented how a part-time federal fund was used to hire a former district staffer for a part-time position.
The meeting was moved to Central Middle School to accommodate a larger audience for the council meeting.
Fox 6 Milwaukee’s Brian Polcyn’s June 8 report is posted on the station’s website, www.fox6now.com. The report details how the Hartford Joint 1 School Board approved the creation of a District Community Coordinator position through a contract with the Cooperative Education Services Agency (CESA) 6. CESAs are not-for-profit entities that provide education-related services to school districts in their area. . The District Community Coordinator position was created to promote expanded learning opportunities for students who were falling behind by having the coordinator email and call parents to inform them of the Exact Path program, an online learning resource. The position was funded by one-time funds from the Elementary Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) program.
The contract with CESA was approved at the December 14 meeting of the Hartford Joint I School Board. The position was filled by Cindy Smits, wife of Joint Superintendent I of Hartford, Mark Smits. Cindy Smits is a former district educator. The position covered a period from January 4 to June 30.
In the Fox 6 report, Mark Smits said there was no conflict of interest because he had not supervised his wife and evaluated her performance in the position.
Smits addressed the issue in a letter he sent to district staff.
“Staff, I apologize for the gaps in communication on this matter and I have given a lot of thought over the past few weeks. Although no policies were violated, my tenure in the district tells me that I must learn from this experience and I want you to know that I am committed to working harder to regain any trust that may have been lost” , Smits said in the letter. . “The school board and I discussed at length the processes used. Accordingly, we are reviewing our existing policies and procedures and this topic will be brought to Board Committees for refinement. »
School board president Greg Erickson addressed the issue in a letter sent to parents.
“It is important to know that this contract was approved by the school board (spouse 1) at the December 2021 school board meeting. Due to the nature of their relationship, Dr. (Mark) Smits has been isolated from the service agreement process and was not involved in the negotiation between CESA 6 and Cheryl Simonson, Director of Program and Instruction HJT1,” Erickson wrote in the letter. “This was a legal contract between HJT1 and CESA 6 and Dr. Smits did not violate any school board policy or state law. Please know that all of these decisions were made in the best interest of the students. »
In the letter, Erickson said the temporary position was created to identify student learning loss during the pandemic, and that the CESA 6 position was filled by Cindy Smits because of her experience and skills. Cindy Smits was previously District Community Coordinator and Gifted and Talented People Coordinator.
“Her previous experience in this same role and her knowledge of the district allowed Ms. Smits to quickly fill this role and begin providing support,” Erickson said in the letter.
A full story summarizing comments from parents and Hartford Joint I School Board members at the June 28 meeting is posted on the Express News website and www.discoverhometown.com