Student representatives on the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board are asking their peers to give feedback on a bond that will come before taxpayers for a November 2024 vote. If passed, the bond would fund some combination of repairs and renovations to the school in the coming years.


At the board’s January 10 meeting, student representatives Ellie Buckingham and Naomi Myers presented results from a recent, short survey that asked students to reflect on the state of the school and how they would like to see it improved.

Their survey generated 105 responses. When students were asked: “What do you appreciate about Harwood?” 40% of responders said they appreciated the teachers and opportunities available to them, 20% said athletics and community, 17% said a Harwood facility, 15% said the art department, and 8% said other.

“How is the bond paid for? And what does this really mean for the average homeowner? What does this mean for your parents?” Jake Pittman, HUUSD board.

When asked: “What areas of Harwood do you think the bond should prioritize?” 25% of responders said heating and air conditioning systems, 20% said science classrooms, 15% said improvements to athletics and athletic facilities – specifically track and athletic fields, and 40% pointed to a combination of other priorities.

Buckingham and Myers shared some written feedback from surveys: “It would be really beneficial to me if the science classrooms had windows and light,” and “I appreciate the classrooms with big windows, feels like I can breathe.”

The HUUSD Board has repeatedly stressed that the bulk of construction projects included in the draft bond list are crucial infrastructure work, including the replacement and addition of windows. The architectural firm TruexCullins has estimated the cost for windows at about $2.5 million.  

Most of the items on the board’s draft list – totaling about $71 million, are carried over from a 2021 bond, which was rejected by taxpayers. Several board members have speculated that the previous bond failed, in part, due to a lack of public outreach.

In a December 8 meeting that the HUUSD Board hosted in order to present information and collect public feedback about the current bond, student HUUSD Board representative Will Burks said student voice “was definitely something missing from the [2021] bond.”

Buckingham and Myers said that the student board reps are planning a presentation at an upcoming Harwood assembly, where they will give an overview of the bond proposal and how students can participate. They have also planned an all-school dialogue for students on February 6, which will be led by students trained in facilitating dialogue based on the Harkness method – a mode of learning that involves students discussing ideas with minimal teacher intervention.

Board member Mike Bishop asked the reps if their outreach includes education in taxes and budgeting. “Do the students understand how you actually pay for all of this? Because I think that’s a real lesson that should be taught first. Because it’s easy to say the stuff you want, but the question is, how are you going to pay for it? I think that’s what we’re facing right now. I think we got a real budget problem here.”

Board member Jake Pitman agreed, adding that “it would be nice to very carefully and succinctly explain – not with much detail, but how is the bond paid for? And what does this really mean for the average homeowner? What does this mean for your parents?”

Myers said that the student survey does contain information up front about what a bond is, and how repairs and renovations to the school would be funded through tax dollars. Buckingham added that a lot of the material presented in their upcoming assembly will include these topics, and that the student reps are trying to get that basic information out before the all-school dialogue takes place.