Work has begun on a new kitchen for the Waitsfield Elementary School in Waitsfield, Vermont. Photo: Lisa Loomis

With students and staff on April vacation last week, demolition of the existing kitchen at Waitsfield Elementary School got underway as part of a multi-month project that will be completed in August, prior to the start of the next school year.



School principal Kaiya Korb said that the demolition work – which was loud -- was accomplished while the building was empty – included the construction of a temporary, faux wall separating the school’s combined cafeteria/gymnasium from the ongoing work.

The project, which the school board approved March 22, 2023, will cost $1,045,849. That includes having the Farrington Construction Company demolish the old kitchen and build a new kitchen for $879,318. The Farrington bid was the only bid the school district received for the project and includes construction. Contingencies, engineering, and design make up the balance of the cost.

Waitsfield Elementary School is the only school in the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) without a commercial kitchen. Currently, meals for the 170 students at Waitsfield Elementary are prepared in the Fayston Elementary School kitchen, transported to Waitsfield, then the dirty dishes are transported back to Fayston.

With the new kitchen at Waitsfield, meals for both schools would be made at the larger school (Fayston has approximately 70 students) and dishes could be done at Fayston, as that school does have a dishwasher. The Fayston/Waitsfield meal plan has been in place for five years with renovation of the Waitsfield kitchen delayed multiple times.


Farrington’s bid states that the project, which would include “renovation of kitchen, including structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing, mop sink replacement in nearby janitor closet and washer/dryer connection in nearby storage closet,” would be completed by August 18, 2023. HUUSD superintendent Dr. Mike Leichliter said via email this week that the project would be completed by August 24.

The project is being funded from the school district’s maintenance reserve fund. The school district’s maintenance reserve fund contains $4.5 million. The school district has identified $10 million in work over the next three years. Ray Daigle, the district’s director of facilities, has identified $25-$30 million in deferred maintenance.

At least some of that deferred maintenance would have been addressed in a $59.5 million bond vote that failed in November 2021. On November 2, 2021, residents of the six sending towns for the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) voted down a $59.5 million bond. The bond included efficiencies and improvements, compliance and repairs and educational alignments to the Harwood Union High School building, as well as expansion of the Crossett Brook Middle School to accommodate moving the Harwood Middle School seventh and eighth graders to the Crossett Brook building. The proposed bond was the culmination of the school board’s work over the past five years, and discussions of a bond even predated the consolidation of the school district in 2016. Voters rejected the bond with 2,599 no votes (73%) to 975 yes votes (27%).