Ingrid Lackey-Howell, intern reporter
Members of the Harwood Unified Union School District Board will vote again on whether to merge the school district’s two middle schools on May 26. The board passed a motion by Moretown representative Lisa Mason at its April 14 meeting. At that same meeting the board discussed other logistics of merging middle schools along with the prospect of in-person graduation in June.
During the meeting, Warren board member Jonathan Young raised concerns about the logistics of merging the Harwood Union and Crossett Brook middle schools at Crossett Brook. He said there’s a stigma around temporary classrooms, and he would be a proponent of permanent additions to the school itself. Board member Caitlin Hollister, Waterbury, agreed with Young and said permanent additions at Crossett Brook Middle School could have a larger benefit of better serving the community.
Waitsfield board member Christine Sullivan voiced support for temporary classrooms and no additions, but only if they are temporary.
Board member Jonathan Clough, Warren, said “Treating temporary structures as permanent is a bad solution.” Fayston board member Theresa Membrino agreed with Clough. Moretown board member Kristen Rodgers said she was not in favor of anything but additions that would be invariable structures for the school. Board members Marlena Fishman, Waterbury; Jeremy Tretiak, Waitsfield; Kelley Hackett, Waterbury; Brain Dalla Mura; and Michael Frank, Waterbury, expressed support for permanent additions with temporary structures during a transitional period.
The board passed a motion calling for inviting administrators from the Harwood Middle School and High School to attend the next board meeting to talk further about the logistics of a merger.
“I was re-reading what the middle school’s facilities would look like with the addition of a varying amounts of classrooms. What I’m seeing is applied academics going into carts, lack of offices, no maker space; I just don’t see the educational experience gains that we really promised were going to be the results of this merger,” said Moretown board member Lisa Mason before making a motion to revote on the middle school merger plan on April 28.
Young seconded the motion. Later, there was an amendment by Clough to push the date to May 26.
In other discussions, the board heard from school district superintendent Bridge Nease that an in-person graduation will happen under a tent, socially distanced and masked. Nease also said although they are waiting for guidance from the state, they’re planning for a prom as well.
During her report, Nease talked about a new busing proposal that tackles shorter bus rides and weighs the financial responsibilities and possibilities of elementary school students to ride with high school and middle school students. This proposal allows students around the district to have the same amount of school time each day.
Clough asked Nease about the logistics of social distancing during lunch with students in school four days a week. The CDC still requires 6-foot distancing during lunch. Nease explained that some students will, at times, be having lunch outside. They will also be utilizing the cafeteria.
The meeting started with a public comment from Life LeGeros from the Waterbury Area Anti-Racism Coalition, strongly suggesting the board discuss and consider resisting standardized testing before students are asked to take them next.
Penny Chamberlin, the director of the Central Vermont Career Center (CVCC), explained a possible change in governance for the career center. Currently, CVCC is governed under the Barre Unified Union School District Board. However, CVCC works with five other school districts. Chamberlin is presenting the idea for a “study committee” to all six sending school boards. This study committee would be responsible for looking at the pros and cons of CVCC having their own administrative board. The HUUSD Board approved CVCC’s request for a study committee, and Tim Jones will be the HUUSD representative for the committee.