Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board members narrowed district reconfiguration options from 10 possible scenarios to three.
At the HUUSD June 12 meeting, the scenarios approved were as follows: The board approved scenario A (pre-K, Early Ed Center and central office at Moretown Elementary; pre-K to grade four at Thatcher Brook, Waitsfield and Warren; all grades five to eight at Crossett Brook; all grades nine to 12 at Harwood Union) forward for further modeling.
The board approved B (pre-k to grade four at Thatcher Brook; pre-k to grade four at three Valley schools; all grades five to eight at Crossett Brook; all grades nine to 12 at Harwood Union) forward for further modeling. And D (pre-k to grade four at Thatcher Brook; pre-k to grade six at Moretown, Waitsfield and Warren; Waterbury/Duxbury grades five and six and all grades seven and eight at Crossett Brook, and all grades nine to 12 at Harwood Union) forward for further modeling.
HUUSD Board members heard reports from administrators as to what buildings in the district would be able to be repurposed or added on to in order to make decisions about building capacities. Board members had tasked administrators at the board’s June 5 meeting to cost out future models of a list of 10 scenarios.
Superintendent Brigid Nease, director of facilities Ray Daigle and director of finance and operations Michelle Baker presented a slideshow at the HUUSD meeting June 12 of each model with a list of what would need to be done at each location.
The administrative team reviewed each option, going over in detail as to what work would need to be done. This list included building additions, athletic field space, capacity issues, and what the administrative team suggests or does not recommend with splitting up grades and staffing.
Board members reviewed the remaining 10 scenarios with the intent to first discard the ones they disliked. After reviewing the 10, board members had a brief discussion as to why they would like to cut scenarios before the board moved on to the next. Each board member was able cast three votes for scenarios they liked but did not have to use each vote.
Waitsfield representative Christine Sullivan made a motion to move scenario D for final modeling. The board voted to pursue scenario D (pre-k to grade four at Thatcher Brook; pre-k to grade six at Moretown, Waitsfield and Warren; Waterbury/Duxbury grades five and six at Crossett Brook and all seventh and eighth grades at Crossett Brook, all grades nine to 12 at Harwood Union) forward for further modeling.
Waterbury representative James Grace moved to have scenario B pushed forward for further modeling. Fellow Waterbury representative Maureen McCracken commented that Options A and B are similar with the exception of having two or three schools in The Valley.
Grace called out McCracken: "After spending so much energy debating closing a school, I don't understand how it's possible to say that two scenarios with two different numbers of schools is equivalent, Maureen. That doesn't make any sense to me. I mean if we want to have six scenarios to the admin team then fine, but A and B are not the same; they have two different numbers of schools."
Waitsfield representative Jeremy Tretiak, asked Nease if the vagueness of scenario B would make the modeling difficult for the administrative team as it does not list three specific Valley schools that would remain open. Nease said that scenario B will be the most difficult to model out looking at staffing, enrollment projections and transportation. Sullivan amended the motion to assume the three Valley schools would be Warren, Waitsfield and Moretown.
Grace reminded the board that they started with 29 scenarios and decided to group the three Valley schools together for simplicity. Now, the admin team wants more concrete details in order to do analysis.
TRUTH IN LABELING
Natalie Vasseur, Fayston, expressed her disapproval in labeling which of the three Valley schools would remain in option B. "That was really hard for me to hear that you were just going to go and change three Valley schools to just completely eliminating Fayston School when it is the most well maintained, it’s not in a flood zone, it has a full working kitchen, it would have the capacity for or maybe it won’t, but you won’t know unless you look at it. ... And is it or is not stated in the board packet, the way that it is stated for people who are not present here today and are trying to figure out what's going on? Because these are our schools, these are our teachers, these are our kids, and this is really hard so to be ‘just check this off, might as well’ – I know it comes down to dollars and whatever, but to me this is not a dollar thing. This is my life and my kids so that's really hard to hear," said Vasseur.