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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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Supporting success at Harwood

Supporting success at Harwood

By the members of the Harwood Union School Board


Harwood Union Middle/High School is comprised of a middle school currently serving 146 students from Fayston, Moretown, Waitsfield, and Warren, and a high school that serves these communities plus students from Waterbury and Duxbury (579 students).


Total students, grades 7–12                    725

Typical graduating class                          150

Faculty                                                  78

Average class size, gr 7–8                      18

Average class size, gr 9–12                     17


The Harwood community has a long tradition of supporting high-quality education. As your neighbors and members of the Harwood school board, we are once again asking for your vote to support this year’s Harwood budget.

We also want to share with you how your past investments have paid off. We are proud to report that Harwood ranks among the best high schools in the state.


Community support, academic success


Harwood has received regional and national recognition for many of its programs and has a high level of student achievement. Consider this:


  • Harwood sophomores have the highest average PSAT scores in the state (ranked number 1 in each of reading, writing and math – 2011).
  • Harwood ranks in the top 10 of Vermont public high schools in all other standardized test results (SAT, ACT, AP – 2011).
  • Harwood was named by the College Board to the 2012 AP Honor Roll, one of just five schools in Vermont recognized for increasing the number of students who take advanced placement courses and whose students score high enough to earn college credit.
  • Harwood’s music program is widely recognized as the best in the state. Harwood has won Berkelee College of Music jazz awards (2007, 2008) and was named a Signature School of Music by the Grammy Awards (2003).
  • 80 percent of Harwood graduates enroll in postsecondary education (2012).
  • Harwood offers a mix of educational options to help students succeed and graduate: The Harwood Community Learning Center offers self-directed learning opportunities, Next Step links students to internships and work experiences, and technical education prepares students for skilled trades.
  • 95 percent of Harwood students graduate high school (top 10 in Vermont for schools of its size and larger – 2011).


Harwood’s excellent teachers are the heart of the educational experience in our school. Some recent accolades for them include:


  • Maureen Charron Shea, a grade 7–12 special education teacher at Harwood, was just named one of three national finalists for the 2012–13 LifeChanger of the Year Award from the National Life Group.
  • Rob MacLeod was named the 2012 Vermont History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and Preserve America.
  • ·          Three Harwood faculty members have won prestigious fellowships from the Rowland Foundation for Innovative Education: Sarah Ibson and Ellen Berrings (2013) and Jean Berthiaume (2009).


Beyond the classroom

Harwood Union has a rich co-curricular program that currently encompasses 53 sports teams and 25 clubs. Over 88 percent of six-year students at Harwood Middle School and High School will have participated in at least one co-curricular program over the course of their school career. These programs provide learning opportunities that cannot be replicated in the classroom.

The hard work and commitment of Harwood’s student athletes has been rewarded. Since 2008, Harwood sports teams have won at least five state championships per year; in 2010–11, Harwood teams won a record seven state titles.

There is also action in the school auditorium, as the drama club performs a fall play and spring musical, which are both annual attractions for the larger community.

Harwood budget and future challenges

Over the past four years, the Harwood school board and administration have worked to keep the budget in line with enrollment, keeping our cost-per-pupil spending at or near the state average.

Harwood has shouldered its fair share of financial cuts in recent years and reduced staff to reflect declining enrollments Expenditures have decreased or been held level for several years in a row, and this is the first budget in recent years that will actually exceed our spending levels of three years ago (FY10).

This year’s Harwood budget request to the community reflects a 7.6 percent increase over last year’s budget and will be voted as two questions (per a law passed by the Vermont Legislature in 2007 that expires after this year): Part A in the amount of $12,866,914 and Part B in the amount of $128,345. We ask for your support for both parts.

The two biggest drivers of this year’s budget increase are a substantial rise in special education costs (this accounts for nearly half of the budget increase and is the result of a growing need for special education services) and a 14 percent rise in Vermont’s statewide health insurance rates for teachers.

This budget also reflects small strategic investments in the areas of health and wellness, technology and literacy, which were identified as critical needs during Harwood’s recent accreditation process. These improvements are aimed at helping our students make appropriate health choices, be better prepared to use technology and become better writers. This budget also helps Harwood to evolve its curriculum, improve transitions between middle and high school, and it updates an obsolete phone system.

In the year ahead, the Harwood school board will continue to address key challenges, including ensuring that we have adequate technology to address 21st-century learning, contending with an aging facilities and providing appropriate academic supports for struggling students.

We are mindful that we must balance the goal of providing a high-quality education for our children with a commitment to minimize the burden on taxpayers. We feel that the proposed Harwood budget achieves these twin goals in a very challenging year for Vermont’s schools.

With your support, Harwood can continue to be an innovative, creative and high-performing school that helps all children in our community succeed.

Residents are welcome to attend the Harwood Union annual meeting on February 23 at 10 a.m. in the Harwood Union High School library.


Russell Beilke, Fayston

David Goodman, Waterbury

Debra Hunter, Moretown

Christopher Koliba, Duxbury (chair)

Daniel Raddock, Warren

Stephen Sands, Waitsfield

Dale Smeltzer, Waterbury



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