Last year’s budget season was rough for the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) and the sentiment on the board has only grown worse since then.
Just before the board’s June 14 meeting, the Fayston delegation sent a five-page memo that criticized the conduct of the board as well as the conduct of the Washington West Supervisory Union superintendent, and the two representatives have not been seen since. So, the memo and all of its contents have not been discussed.
This is wrong. No matter what the issues are or what they stem from, the HUUSD Board must work out its problems before the oncoming budgeting season. Last fall was hard enough with proposed teacher cuts and disagreements over equity between schools. Those issues have not been resolved.
Superintendent Brigid Nease has said she will be recommending the same teacher cuts that she did last year, unless something unforeseen changes in enrollment.
Unfortunately, Nease is right to suggest the cuts. It’s unfortunate because teachers are a vital part of the Mad River Valley community. However, the starkly different class sizes between the elementary schools are unjustifiable.
In 2016-2017, Warren had 78 students from kindergarten to third grade, Fayston had 39 and yet they had the same number of teachers serving those grade levels.
Last year, had the cuts been made, it would have allowed the board to increase funding for foreign language education at Crossett Brook, which is a clear inequity between the middle schools. Harwood teachers have told the board that students coming in from Crossett Brook are at a lower skill level in foreign language than those coming from Harwood.
Lastly, disagreements over individual budget items are going to happen and even though they can become heated, they should be seen as a good thing, and board members should be able to move on from the arguments without holding grudges. However, after the arguments are made, the HUUSD Board needs to rely on the vote.
There are 14 people on the board. It may cause unruly discussions to last longer, but a large number of members make the board’s vote much more effective. Learn to use it.