Last week, members of the Moretown Select Board met to discuss withdrawing from the school district in a meeting that was not warned or recorded for the public. The November 24 meeting involved two school board members, two select board members and several community members who used Moretown's taxpayer-funded Zoom account to discuss the potential withdrawal of Moretown Elementary School from the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD).
At a meeting on December 7, Martin assured the public that the meeting was not meant to be kept from public eyes and emphasized that lack of access to the meeting was merely a select board oversight.
“There wasn’t an agenda put out. We need to do a better job, if we’re going to have these meetings, in making sure we plan them correctly. I’ll take responsibility for not giving proper direction on how to do that,” said Martin.
Additionally, Martin assured the public that no decision to withdraw was made at the meeting, for it was only an informational brainstorming session. “It was a positive and brief fact-finding meeting,” said Martin. “It was to talk about what’s happening in the school and what we would do if they decided to close Moretown. The board is not advocating anything. We are just looking to find the best information.”
According to select board member Don Wexler, several specific topics were discussed by select board members and community members at this withdrawal-brainstorming session. First, they brainstormed ways to get other Valley towns involved in the conversation. Second, they discussed the school board’s latest decision to pursue a seventh- and eighth-grade merger in 2022. Third, they talked about the way coronavirus is changing schooling. “There was no consensus. The only consensus was that, yes, it would be good to have a community information gathering meeting,” said Wexler.
While Martin took the blame for not properly warning and recording the withdrawal meeting, he blamed the school board and administration for forcing Moretown to consider withdrawal in the first place.
“We’re in the middle of the pandemic. You would think that those people on that board, or the administration, would have the emotional intelligence to say, there’s a moratorium on moving around and switching classrooms and teachers,” said Martin. “There’s enough stress right now in this world, in this town, in this county. No one needs to be fooling around with that garbage. They should take that money that they have in that budget, start fixing the high school, and not hold it hostage to this.”
Martin was referring to a recent school board meeting in which the school board affirmed its intent to consolidate middle school students. While the school board did not specifically say it would move fifth- and sixth-grade students from Moretown to Crossett Brook Middle School (CBMS) in 2022, many Moretown residents believe that the movement of Moretown students to CBMS will be the next domino to fall in the consolidation chain after seventh- and eighth-grade students move to CBMS from Harwood.
“It’s absolutely disgusting that that board, during a pandemic, would do this, and that we have to meet and plan on what we’re going to do,” said Martin. “I am getting very, very sick of it.”