As The Valley Reporter goes to press on Wednesday, March 10, Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board members will meet to reorganize board positions, discuss its superintendent search and hear complaints from the Harwood Union Education Association (HUEA).
On February 22, HUEA co-presidents Justina Boyden and Steve Rand wrote to the board expressing their concerns about the board’s recent decision to reduce a team of four core teachers from the Harwood Union Middle School (HUMS) for the fall of 2021. This decision will force seventh- and eighth-grade Harwood students to share classrooms of over 25 students per class, according to projected enrollment figures released by the district.
Although teachers will be reduced through attrition, taking up jobs in other parts of the district as other teachers retire, many teachers are incensed at the board’s lack of transparency and disregard for community input in making this decision.
“Why, after proposing a budget with enough funding for this team, did half of the school board decide to do away with the team? Why did some board members not support the middle school principal, who advised them to keep the team in place for at least one more year because it is in the best interest of students and staff?” said Boyden and Rand in their letter to the board.
“We feel strongly that there should be a clear plan, not just for next year, but for the entire restructuring of the middle school. We would like to be part of a transparent process whereby taxpayers, families, students and staff are clear about our district's plans for the future,” they said.
The HUEA presidents also emphasized that, if teacher reductions are to be made, they should happen during the budgeting process, not after. “It is clear a number of school board members believe decisions regarding reductions of school staff should have been made months ago during the process of building a budget. We agree. All we ask for is a clear and open process for restructuring our schools and reducing staff. Without a transparent process, we can’t help but wonder if there are more reductions planned?” the letter reads. “The lack of transparency regarding the reduction of a middle school team obscures all of the hard work and successes we have achieved as a district this year. It calls into question whether we are, or are not, all in this together?”
The outcome of the HUEA’s discussion with the school board will appear online at www.valleyreporter.com after the meeting on March 10.