Russ Bennett is challenging Christine Sullivan for her seat on the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board representing Waitsfield via a write-in candidacy.
Bennett has two adult children who graduated from Harwood Union and two young daughters, Olive, 4, and Esme, 8 months.
“The amount of rancor and level of discussion coming from the HUUSD Board is not conducive to the health of our society or good community building. This is destructive to the fabric of our communities and our children. There’s a loss of trust in the board and its leadership which is demonstrated by a move to vote the school budgets down as a protest and citizens paying attorneys to sue the board and ask for change to the processes. There is demoralization of the teaching staff for a variety of reasons including being RIFed,” Bennett said.
Bennett said that he’s concerned about making redesign decisions without enough information and without clearly stated data about how those decisions will improve student outcomes.
“When we change the structure of our school systems we need to know that we have accountability and ways to measure the success of these changes. Will they create a better education for our kids than they presently have and how will we know? We need to know what the measurables and deliverables are for determining if the changes are positive and what our plans would be if they aren’t. All actions should be measured against what is best for our students’ development and intellectual and emotional health. We have lots of data that can be used and is used to measure how schools and students are performing. Let’s use that data to make accurate predictions about outcomes and put all the variables in the considerations,” he said.
Bennett owns NorthLand Design, Waitsfield, and is a partner in Planetary Matters, the group that has led the renaissance of Camp Meade in Middlesex.
Bennett has lived in The Valley since 1971. He’s been a member of the Harwood Vocational Advisory Committee and served two decades on the Waitsfield Planning Commission, 15 years as chair. He served as Waitsfield’s representative to the Mad River Valley Planning District steering committee, was director and past president of the Sugarbush (now Mad River Valley) Chamber of Commerce, was chair of the Mad River Transportation Advisory Committee, a member of the Mad River Path Association and a board member and executive committee officer for Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility.
“The Waitsfield Elementary School is one of the best in Vermont. I look forward to working with Kaiya Korb and Kathi Orr and representing them and the town of Waitsfield on the HUUSD Board,” he added.