In light of the defeat of the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) budget at Town Meeting last week, and given the fact that the HUUSD Board itself was split 7-6 for the proposed budget, the board may consider postponing consolidation of all district seventh- and eighth-graders at Crossett Brook Middle School this fall.
That $39,770,000 budget, which included a plan referred to as “rezoning” students, would have also moved Moretown’s fifth- and sixth-graders to Crossett Brook along with all district seventh- and eighth-grade students.
Last week voters rejected the proposed budget and its rezoning by a commingled vote of 3,048 to 2,254. A maintenance reserve fund budget request for $1,880,109, also voted on via Australian ballot, passed by a vote of 2,957 to 2,213.
The board will be discussing the budget defeat and its reorganization on March 12 at 6 p.m. in the Harwood Union library. Three new members will be joining the board at Thursday night’s meeting: Alec Adams, Duxbury; Kelley Hackett, Waterbury; and Lisa Mason, Moretown.
With the Harwood Highlanders girls’ basketball team going to semifinals and the Highlanders boys’ hockey team going to finals on Wednesday night, the Harwood Unified Union School District Board has postponed by a day to allow board and community members to support student athletes.
According to the budget leadership report that current chair Caitlin Hollister and vice chair Torrey Smith sent to the board, discussion at this meeting will revolve around creating a path forward toward introducing a budget that the public will approve.
“We are hopeful that in this next round, our board can come to a stronger agreement to provide our voters with more clarity about the board’s decisions and what a yes or no vote means,” said Hollister and Smith, who believe the strong division on the board regarding the budget contributed to the “no” outcome on Town Meeting Day.
Hollister and Smith are already brainstorming alternative budgets that will bring more board members together in agreement. “We suggest there may be an opportunity to pursue a bridge year with this new budget vote,” they said, referring to the bridge year as a year that maintains the status quo and allows for more planning and development of a preK-12 plan before the merger.
On Thursday, board members will also discuss the proposed Harwood Union bond, inviting design consultant David Epstein to discuss his team’s work on planning renovations for the Harwood campus.
“Regardless of how we decide to proceed with our budget, we know that we still need to pursue design work at Harwood in order to inform our bond decisions,” said Hollister and Smith in their report. “For that reason, we feel confident recommending that the board approve this work."