When, in 1965, the six towns that are in the current Harwood consolidated school district (the HUUSD) voted to create the original union, that is, a school for seventh through 12th graders, the region became served by a total of seven school districts – a K-6 school district in each town, and a union school district for a new junior/senior high school.
Seven school districts were too many for this region.
When these six towns became fully consolidated in 2016, the entire region became served by one school district.
One school district is not enough for this region.
This region would be best served by three school districts:
- A PreK-8 Mad River Valley school district serving the towns of Fayston, Moretown, Waitsfield and Warren;
- A PreK-8 "Twobury" school district serving the towns of Duxbury and Waterbury; and
- A 9-12 Harwood High School district serving all six towns of our region.
This structure would accomplish three very important goals:
- It would support the Mad River Valley at this critical time when we are losing so much that keeps a community vibrant (drug store, bank, etc.);
- It would support the unique needs of the students of Duxbury and Waterbury; and
- It would create a governance structure that is solely focused on the wholly unique needs of our union high school students.
There is a way to accomplish this, but it won't be easy:
- At least one brave town must take a preliminary vote to withdraw from the consolidated school district, passing a simultaneous resolution for the reconstitution of the consolidated school district into the three districts outlined above; and
- The remaining towns would need to ratify the proposed withdrawal. If so ratified, the State Board of Education would have the authority to dissolve the consolidated district and to reconstitute the consolidated district as outlined above, pending a second approval from the voters in The Valley towns.
This process of dissolution and reconstitution should be the new focus of the HUUSD Board. Why? Because it's the right thing to do for the region. A number of consolidated school boards throughout the state have recognized a better path forward for the towns that they serve and have led the charge for change in their regions. Our school board should do the same.
In April of 1967, as the first year of operation of the new Harwood Union Junior/Senior High School drew toward a close, the Times-Argus ran a series of six stories discussing how each town felt about the new union. The headline of the article regarding Moretown read "Moretown Wasn't Swallowed." The headline was based on a comment from Mrs. Aline Ward, the Moretown School District Clerk: "We were afraid of being swallowed by Waterbury, but everything has worked out well."
Hopefully Mrs. Ward didn't speak too soon.
Neil Nussbaum lives in Moretown.
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