By Rob Williams
The Harwood Union Unified School District (HUUSD) Board would like to thank residents who have engaged with us as we begin to examine the complexities of overseeing our new unified school district, as well as MRVTV, The Valley Reporter and other local news media for covering the important work we’re doing to support our 1,700-plus students.
I would like to respectfully clarify a few points about our ongoing unified board work, partly in response to last week’s front-page story in The Valley Reporter, “HUUSD Board talks teachers cuts,” an article that I feel mistakenly suggested that teacher cuts were the primary focus of our December 7 meeting, but also to begin more in-depth communication with our communities about the various issues faced by all of our schools, together.
First, it is certainly true that we have had initial discussions about class size and reviewed what each of our elementary school classrooms will likely look like next year. We have had initial discussions around the classrooms that look particularly small and some of that dialogue circled around the question of equity. But it is important to note that we have not yet agreed to combine classes and our dialogue continues. We have not even seen a first budget based on state financial numbers and related tax impact.
Beyond class size, though, the newly unified HUUSD board has actually spent much more time on other issues that we feel will have a positive impact on our students and on our infrastructure. We have gauged interest in school choice and are committed to developing a policy that we hope will support school choice as early as next year. We are considering offering a bus service to/from Granville to encourage tuition students, which could bring more young minds and money to our schools and might help slow the pattern of declining student enrollment. We are considering a science curriculum for grades six through eight that will improve our approach to science, a much-needed focus in all of our schools. We are exploring language instruction in schools that currently have only limited language offerings. We are examining an approach to funding building maintenance that keeps our buildings in good working order and helps to avoid the larger problems we are seeing now due to deferred maintenance.
Ultimately, we are hopeful that we can make many positive changes for the good of our students, our teachers and our staff, and do so in a way that ensures good value to our taxpayers. But, as noted above, we have not even seen a first pass at a budget inclusive of tax rates. If you want to participate in our HUUSD conversation, please come to our next HUUSD board meeting on Wednesday, January 4, at 6 p.m. in the Harwood Union High School library. Find more information, contact your HUUSD representatives through our website at www.wwsu.org.
Williams, Waitsfield, is co-chair of the HUUSD communications working group.