There’s no shortage of “sturm und drang” around the future of our school district.
Last week’s hearing before federal district court Judge William Sessions is the most recent episode. Members of the Vermont Coalition of Community Schools sued the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board after that board rejected two petitions seeking two amendments to the Articles of Agreement that govern the merged board.
Petitioners wanted the proposed amendments to come before voters at Town Meeting next month. The proposed amendments would have changed how schools are closed and reconfigured. The board rejected them on advice of counsel.
At last Friday’s hearing, Judge Sessions appeared to follow the reasoning of the school board’s attorney – that the proposed amendments were too broadly written and usurped power that belongs to the school board.
He found that the standards for granting a preliminary injunction had not been met in terms of irreparable harm, noting that petitioners could bring revised or proposed new amendments back at a June bond vote or petition for a special meeting.
And then he quoted language asserted by the HUUSD Board through its attorney.
“Finally, HUUSD submits that if the electorate is dissatisfied with the board’s action, it could vote on March 3, 2020, to reject the district’s annual budget,” Sessions wrote.
It’s not surprising that the school district’s attorney might use those words, but it’s disappointing that the board wouldn’t reject or counter that language.
It seems rather cavalier that the board would suggest (through its attorney) that the voters it represents could or should reject a $39 million budget affecting all seven schools in our district.
That’s an odd exhortation and an odd message to be sending to the people in all the six towns in our district, that they should just vote down the budget if they don’t like the fact that the board has pursued school closure and redesign by budgeting.
The issue is likely coming back. The VTCCS people will be rewriting their proposed amendments to conform to statute. Who knows? If the budget gets voted down, perhaps a revote on it can occur with the proposed $30 million HUUSD bond vote.