“It’s the school board from hell,” said Moretown resident Neil Nussbaum to the Moretown Select Board when making his case as to why Moretown should withdraw from the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD). At a select board meeting on October 5, Nussbaum argued that school consolidation was huge mistake. He said that consolidating schools to save money and solve problems was as effective as a carpenter reaching for a fish instead of a hammer.
This impassioned speech came after the Moretown Select Board decided this was not the time to hold a public hearing on school district withdrawal based on a petition that Nussbaum created back in March. The petition has over 100 signatures.
As select board chair Tom Martin explained, accepting Nussbaum’s petition would put the select board on the clock, giving it 60 days to warn a withdrawal meeting. At this meeting, community members would be expected to vote on Moretown’s withdrawal from the district. “I don’t think it’s wise,” said Martin. “We won’t have the information we need to make the best decision within these next 60 days. It’s premature.”
Martin joked that if the board held a meeting now, Nussbaum would be the only one to show up. To this, Nussbaum joked that if he was the only one at the meeting, he would pass the withdrawal, because “all you need is 51%.”
Select board member Rae Washburn said he wanted to hear more from the school board before warning a withdrawal meeting. Luckily, Kristen Rogers, one of Moretown’s school board representatives, was able to give the select board an update on the school board’s latest consolidation plans at the meeting.
Rogers explained that at the next two school board meetings, the consolidation of seventh- and eighth-graders from Harwood Union Middle School (HUMS) at Crossest Brook Middle School (CBMS) will be discussed at length. While the school board has not voiced any intentions to consolidate fifth- and sixth-graders from Moretown to CBMS like it had planned in the past, the next two school board meetings will unveil the board’s broader consolidation plans. Many Moretown residents, like Neil Nussbaum, worry that the Moretown fifth- and sixth-graders will be the next domino to fall in the districtwide consolidation chain, after middle schoolers from Harwood.
In the past, Martin also expressed concern over the possible consolidation of Moretown students to CBMS. However, he was adamant that this was not the time to push for withdrawal. “We don’t want to be complacent but to start scheduling meetings now, we will hurt ourselves more than we can help ourselves,” said Martin. “We don’t disagree with what you’re saying, Neil. It’s a timing issue. If you start pushing when you don’t need to, then it can hurt us. We’re just saying slow down a little bit. For the next few weeks let’s see what happens and then let’s regroup.”