Local parents and community members are circulating petitions to amend the Articles of Agreement by which voters in the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) voted to merge in 2016.
The petitions seek to amend Articles 6 and 12 which speak to school closure, intradistrict school choice and major school and grade reconfigurations within the district.
Organizers are seeking signatures from 5 percent of registered voters in the district, approximately 600 signatures. Working as the Vermont Coalition for Community Schools (VTCCS), organizers want to bring the amendment to voters as Australian ballot items at Town Meeting in March.
Organizers are canvassing The Valley and Waterbury this weekend, circulating the petitions. Petitions are also available at local businesses and schools in the six-town school district.
Petitions will be submitted by January 15. This action follows a November 13, 2019, vote by the HUUSD Board to move ahead with a district redesign plan calling for closing Fayston Elementary School, merging middle schools at Crossett Brook and moving Moretown fifth- and sixth-graders to Crossett Brook – all for the 2021 school year.
Article 6 prohibits school closures for the first four years that the district is operational without consent of the voters in the town targeted for school closure. The proposed amendment strikes the requirement for an affirmative vote of the town targeted for closure and makes minor changes in language where rather than the board discussing school closure, they’d be required to discuss “proposed” school closure.
Additionally, the VTCCS proposed this language be added to Article 6:
“If the Board votes to propose the closure of a school, the proposed closure shall be subject to approval by a simple majority of the electorate of the town in which the school is located, or in the case of a middle or high school, the electorate of the towns served by the school, voting by Australian ballot.”
The proposed changes to Article 12 define major configuration as occurring when one or more grades are moved from one school to another or any changes that result in 10 or more students from any school moving to another. Additionally, the change requires the board to hold two public hearings in the town affected, pass any such configurations by a two-thirds majority after a simple majority of voters in the town approves configuration. The amendment would declare null and void prior votes on configuration such as the November 13, 2019, vote. The petitions can be found at https://458949328399568906.weebly.com/news--resources.