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By Kara Herlihy
The Harwood Finance Committee voted to restore a half-time family and consumer science position at its January 6 meeting. School board chair Scott Mackey shared the news with a library full of students and parents who were prepared to advocate for Family and Consumer Sciences teacher Laura Huss-Steils.
Mackey told community members that despite the small size of Huss-Steils' class, FACS remains an important curriculum offering at Harwood.
"It is imperative for students to develop life skills to maintain independence and that we continue to offer courses for students with different learning styles," Mackey said.
The board previously decided to eliminate the half-time position due to budgetary concerns but restored the funding during the January 13 finance committee meeting.
Mackey said that reducing a teacher would limit the availability of FACS to the students.
"A cut is going to change the kind of education we provide," he said.
Several students offered impact statements on Mrs. Huss-Steils behalf.
IMPORTANT TO HARWOOD
Harwood freshman Pierre Compere told school members, "Not everybody knows how many students value Mrs. Huss-Steils. Laurie is important to Harwood."
Compere said that a student-organized Facebook group dedicated to keeping Huss-Steils employed has over 200 members and that the January 6 meeting had over 70 confirmed guests.
Students spoke in support of Mrs. Huss-Steils' ability to counsel, engage and support students on a variety of issues both school related and personal.
CONTRACTS AND SENIORITY
School board member Mary Gow told those in attendance that the initial cut of Huss-Steils' position "was not a personal thing" and that the procedure is dictated by contracts and seniority.
Mackey spoke about the decreasing enrollment anticipated at Harwood; administrators expect 80 fewer students in the next two years.
"We can't ignore that the school peaked at 850 students two years ago and will only continue to decrease," he said.
"We need to do things that reflect our decrease in students and look at the numbers," Mackey continued.