Voters across The Valley passed town budgets and the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) school budget of $45,422,241, which was overwhelmingly approved, 1,192 to 599, at Town Meeting on March 7, 2023.
There are 11, 476 voters in the school district, of whom 1,808 or 15.7% voted on the budget and maintenance reserve fund.
Voter turnout in Valley towns ranged from 8% to 23% (though it’s worth noting that Duxbury, whose turnout was 23% voted entirely by Australian ballot and did not hold a meeting on Town Meeting Day).
Eight of the HUUSD’s 14 board seats were up for reelection this Town Meeting Day. Life LeGeros and Cindy Senning were reelected to Duxbury’s two seats on the board. LeGeros was appointed for the remaining two years of a three-year term and Senning was elected for three years.
“I am pleased to be elected to a full term on the HUUSD Board,” Senning said. “I am a firm believer in public education and know that we can only provide successful schools if members of the public participate in the governance. For me it is a personal responsibility to take part in the educational system in our district. It is essential that the board provides for a sound and safe education for all the students and assurance to their families and other community members that we are fiscally responsible, have excellent instructional programs, and provide administrators who can effectively run all programs in the district. Over the next three years we also must address the facility needs of all our district schools.”
“I am on the school board to try to increase equity in our schools and inclusiveness in our community,” LeGeros said. “There are a lot of students who our schools (and all schools) aren't serving well, and many of those students have identities that have been historically marginalized -- BIPOC students, students with disabilities, LGBTQ+ students, nontraditional learners, etc. I hope to see a community conversation and board action in areas such as establishing an equity policy, defining academic excellence in a learner-centered multidimensional way that includes hands-on and community-based learning, and supporting culturally responsive and historically accurate curriculum and instruction.”
Ben Clark, Moretown, was elected to a three-year term on the board. J.B. Weir, Waitsfield, was also elected to a three-year term. In Waterbury, current board vice chair Kelley Hackett was reelected for a one-year term while Jake Pitman, who joined the board last fall, was elected to a three-year term.
No one was on Fayston’s ballot for the town’s two HUUSD seats, though two write-in candidates were elected. Danielle Dukette was elected to a seat with two years remaining and Mike Bishop, who was appointed in June 2022, was reelected to a one-year term. He did not file to run but decided to step in when no one else volunteered so that Fayston would have full representation on the board.
“I appreciate this opportunity to represent Fayston on the Harwood Unified Union School Board,” Dukette said. “I’m grateful to those who expressed their support for this representation by writing in my name for this important role. We often don’t realize how many different and very important roles there are in our community until another member of that community reaches out and invites us to participate. Such has been the case for me. I believe that getting involved in community work is critical to keeping Vermont’s unique system of locally driven, locally governed, grassroots democracy thriving. I have a steep learning curve with this board, but I believe my experience as a parent, professional background in social work and special education, and commitment to my community will stand me in good stead. I invite the input from my Fayston neighbors any time.”