HARTFORD — Six teachers and staff spoke about staff morale issues at Hartford Union High School during Monday night’s school board meeting in the dramatic lecture hall at HUHS.
Sheila Parker, an English teacher and department chair at HUHS who just won Educator of the Year, announced she was quitting at the end of the year to go to a more distant school for pay. less during the public comment section.
Parker cited issues with the school’s curriculum, culture, and morale as the reasons she was leaving HUHS, and the reason teachers before her also left.
Five other teachers and staff spoke about culture at the secondary school.
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According to Emmett Williams, a business professor, the work environment is toxic and micromanaged.
Kristen Helms, a math teacher and coach at HUHS, said staff morale hasn’t been this low in the 21 years she’s been in the district.
According to Best Buddies staff member and advisor Beth Hermann, the culture needs to change, and if it doesn’t, she fears more staff will leave the district as well.
Angie Hall, a physical education and health teacher, said there were serious concerns at HUHS. Technical education professor Jason Kraus said it was difficult to grow the program and the school with the staff turnover that has occurred at HUHS.
All teachers and staff encouraged the board to ask about the culture survey staff recently participated in and investigate the results.
The culture survey was discussed during the Pillar 4 update.
According to Ben Hoffmann, a science professor at HUHS and a member of the culture committee, the culture survey showed that teachers and staff members feel they have no voice.
The survey revealed that there is a lack of communication between departments, that communication is not timely or consistent enough, that there is a need to increase compensation, that staff trust and respect need be increased and that staff would like to have a say in professional development. , among others.
Hoffmann and Principal Kelly Lam, who also presented the results of the culture survey, said the committee and the administration would meet to find solutions.
One solution is to update the school’s website so that there is an information center that teachers and staff can access so that they know what is going on in other departments. Some teachers said they felt like they were in “silos” and didn’t know what was going on in other departments.
Other solutions to the issues raised in the survey include a communication audit that is currently underway, increasing relationship building and increasing teacher voice, recognition and appreciation. and staff.
The board voted to table the decision to build eight new tennis courts across from HUHS for two weeks until their next meeting on May 9.
Board Chair Tracy Hennes cited the failure of the recent referendum on outdoor sports facilities as a reason to take more time to gather more information about the proposed project and get more feedback from the community before voting on it. The board voted unanimously to drop the vote.
The project will use $45,000 in designated donations, a $35,000 grant from the United States Tennis Federation and $800,000 in capital improvement funds to build the courts. Using the $800,000 for this project is what the board will vote on May 9.
In a previous article, it was reported that the school only had $800,000 in capital improvement funds, but that was incorrect. The school would use $800,000 of capital improvement funds for the project, the remaining balance of capital improvement funds would still be just over $1 million above the 25% mark that the district is required to spend based on a decision of a previous HUHS. school board and administration, according to Superintendent Jeff Walters.
This $800,000 would have been used to improve the high school’s lighting and flooring and to remove asbestos from the building if the referendum had passed. But there is still money available in the Capital Improvement Fund to do this, depending on how the school board decides to spend it to get down to the 25% mark.
Walters said at the meeting that some people were surprised the school had asbestos and added that the high school is an older building and older buildings have asbestos.
Craig Westfall and Don Pridemore were also sworn in as school board members at the meeting.
The next school board meeting will be May 9 at 5:45 p.m. in the HUHS Drama Boardroom.