The Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board is now overseeing all seven schools in the district. The board oversees the school district, sets policy and, most importantly, sets a budget. So board members are effectively in charge of maintaining, repairing and renovating all seven schools in the district.
Harwood Union (HU) was built in 1965 and apart from some additions in 1998 and 2006 the building has not changed much. Two years ago, the Harwood Union High School Board hired TruexCullins, an architecture and design firm, to assess the school and make recommendations.
Their findings resulted in a 12-page evaluation. The report was completed in 2015, but for the most part it has been set aside because of Act 46 and the subsequent merger of all local school boards in the unified board. There is also the cost of the project; TruexCullins estimated that all of the recommendations, if implemented, would cost just over $17 million.
The recommendations were categorized into three priorities. Priority one included items that affected the health and safety of students. Priority two was materials and systems that were at the end of their “usable” life and priority three were things that could improve the overall experience of the school.
Just the priority one recommendations would take an estimated $1,406,400. At a June 14 HUUSD facilities workgroup meeting, Michelle Baker, director of operations and finance at the Washington West Supervisory Union, said that since the report was completed, things have changed.
However, Rosemarie White, a member of the facilities workgroup, said that the report hadn’t changed, but the circumstances had. She added that the recommendations were simply put on hold because of Act 46.
White also mentioned that the HUUSD has to take all of the elementary schools into account when they are considering such grand capital improvements.
White said that in the past individual school boards and their towns have made renovations to their elementary schools while Harwood was left alone. Now, one board is tasked with both looking after the elementary schools in The Valley as well as bringing Harwood’s facilities up to date.