Superintendent Dr. Mike Leichliter reported at the October 26 Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board meeting that he had received 660 responses to the survey he put out this summer when he joined the district on July 1. He gave a brief overview of the survey results, which he is using as he develops his superintendent goals to be approved at the next board meeting.


He said the primary strengths survey respondents identified in the HUUSD were caring teachers/staff (197 responses), a strong community (122 responses) and student opportunities (106). The top needs identified were school climate (230 responses), academics and student supports (177) and facility needs (94). Survey respondents included Harwood Union High School students, parents/families, community members and teachers/staff (some respondents fell in more than one category).


Leichliter said his goals based on the survey included focusing on academics, retaining students and the school climate, in addition to community relations and communications, which he said included “sharing in a more intentional way the good things happening in our schools.” He plans to have regular discussions with the school board, school administrators and department heads to get input and discuss progress on these goals, which he will develop by June. There was discussion amongst the board whether equity should be its own goal or be included in every aspect of the goals. Leichliter plans to come back to the board with clearer goals at the next meeting.

Also at the October 26 board meeting, Jacob (Jake) Pitman, Waterbury, was appointed to the open Waterbury seat on the HUUSD Board. Pitman grew up in Waterbury/Waterbury Center and graduated from Harwood Union High School in 2013. He said he “had a wonderful experience going through schools in the Waterbury community. I have a natural passion and drive to see success in young people, particularly in the community I grew up in.”

He is currently an assistant coach of Harwood Union High School’s cross-country team and a co-head coach of Harwood Union Middle School’s track and field team. He recognized the potential conflict of interest in being an HUUSD employee on the board and said he would recuse himself of any votes that posed a conflict of interest. The superintendent had contacted Secretary Dan French at the Agency of Education (AOE) to determine whether an exception to that policy could be made in this instance, as there are some exceptions to the rule for nurses, substitute teachers and coaches. The AOE approved the exception in this case. Pitman was appointed to the HUUSD Board.