With another exhausting round of budget planning completed, the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board finally had time to organize and prioritize for future discussions. At their May 27 meeting, the board blew through agenda requests with uncanny speed and minimal discussion. The reason for the board’s auctioneerlike speed was due to the fact that the board wasn’t actually approving any of the agenda requests that night but simply approving requests to hold certain agenda items as discussion topics for future meetings.
For instance, board member Lisa Mason, Moretown, proposed that the board dedicate discussion time at a future meeting toward formalizing an exit interview process for departing staff. Mason suggested that the district could benefit from learning why employees choose to leave the district. “I see the exiting of employees as a ripe opportunity to learn about what the experience of working for the district is,” said Mason. “The ability to glean information from exit interviews is important for our district.”
The motion to dedicate future discussion to the exit interview process passed 55% to 25.30% with eight board members in favor and four in opposition. Rosemarie White, Warren, who voted against the motion, said that tampering with the exit interview process was not the board’s role. “We could ask the administration to provide us with a report. But this is outside of the board’s scope of work,” said White.
WEIGHTED VOTING CONCERN
Next, board member Christine Sullivan, Waitsfield, moved that the board add discussion about board reconfiguration to a future agenda. “Members of the public are concerned about weighted voting and the impact it has on representation at the board table,” said Sullivan. As of now, a vote holds different weight based on the population of a board member’s town. For instance, the votes of Waterbury representatives Michael Frank and Kelley Hackett are worth 9.85% each, while the votes of Duxbury representatives Torrey Smith and Alec Adams are worth 5.2% each.
“Not everyone at the table has the same vote. People have raised the concern about one voice, one vote,” emphasized Sullivan. The vote to add discussion about board reconfiguration to a future agenda passed 68.35% to 11.95%, with 10 board members in favor and two board members in opposition.
The board also passed a motion to add time to a future agenda to discuss collecting data about reasons for intradistrict choice (IDC) applications. Similar to her reasoning for formalizing the exit interview, Mason thought that more information on why students choose to transfer to other schools in the district would contribute to the board’s understanding of the IDC process.
The motion to discuss IDC data collection passed 39.95% to 18.60%, with six board members in favor, three in opposition and three abstaining. Sullivan, who voted against the motion, was adamant that the board should not prod into students’ motivations for transferring schools. “The reason that people want to choose X, Y or Z school is a personal decision and I don’t think it should be something the board should be getting involved with, other than managing and allocating staff based on those decisions,” said Sullivan.
Finally, the board passed a motion to discuss the possibility of the administration conducting an enrollment study around retention and attrition in the district, including trends over time. “It’s going to be important for our K-12 plan,” said board member Theresa Membrino, Fayston. “It’s not only important to understand who’s moving between the schools but also who’s moving in and out of the district.” The motion passed 63.75% to 16.55%, with 10 board members in favor and two in opposition.