MORETOWN, Vt. – Dozens of teachers, students and parents in the Harwood Union School District gathered on Wednesday to share thoughts on an upcoming school budget vote that could result in the consolidation of students at Crosset Brook Middle School.
“The one thing you don’t want in a community is to have a priority based upon a number or a sheet rather than the person in the room,” said Alex Rawson, a science teacher at Harwood Union High School.
The group gathered in the high school library, where a school board meeting was scheduled to take place but was cancelled. Teachers decided to hold a meeting of their own.
Superintendent Brigid Nease said the district is problem-solving around several changes related to Act 46. She added that, to her knowledge, administration wasn’t invited to the meeting.
“The biggest issue we are running into, frankly, is that transparency and open communication are leading to conclusions being drawn before final decisions are made,” Nease said.
Moretown Elementary School would also reconfigure as a K-4 school, and teachers say that would put Crosset Brook over its 400 student capacity. It would also leave some teachers without a job, and others re-assigned.
“We’re seeing reshuffling of faculty members into positions they’re not as suited for as the ones they were hired to do,” said a retired educator who spent 30 years with the district. “I’m voting against this budget because its the only way I can save the jobs of the people being cut.”
Students and teachers were emotional when talking about those who could be losing their jobs. A group of students also discussed how staff cuts would weaken Harwood’s digital media program.
Nease said the district will be installing an annex of four classrooms, bathrooms and office space at Crosset Brook. That will increase capacity to approximately 500. She said 450 students will be there in the fall.
Teaching staff has asked for more time with the transition, but the administration team “feels confident that the necessary work for transition can be accomplished in the next six months.”