What’s next for Harwood’s maintenance and how can we help?

Leaky pipes, faulty ventilation, and residual asbestos. All of these are pressing issues within our very own school. But, considering Harwood’s $40 million maintenance bond’s failure to garner enough votes to take effect, what happens next?


“We’ll keep it running, we’ll keep it functioning, it’s not going to get cheap, it’s gonna get expensive,” said Ray Daigle, HUUSD Director of Facilities and Operations. “You know, the cost isn’t going down. That means we have to plan out for a number of years, doing the same amount of work that would happen in a relatively short period of time with the bond.”


Ray Daigle, HUUSD Director of Facilities and Operations

Photo Credit: Wyeth Talmon


Ray is right – maintenance will get expensive, and fast. As time goes on, codes and requirements change. Stuff gets old. So what are the actual problems with this school, and how will we afford to fix them?


Perhaps the biggest underlying problem haunting Harwood is it’s age.  “This school was built in 1965, So the vast majority of the school is over 50 years old” Daigle stated. Harwood is not alone. Even some of the newest high schools in Vermont are decades old – U32, for instance was built in 1971, and Spaulding was built before the turn of the 20th century.


Old age leads to a whole host of problems. At Harwood, some of the most pressing issues are the ventilation system and the roofing in certain sections of the building.


The ventilation system was built to be code compliant for the time period it was built in – it was first fabricated when the school was built, in the 60s. It has been updated since then, receiving some upgrades in 1996 to meet the codes for that time. Now, it needs more work to keep up with modern regulations.


On top of this, the roof over the middle school needs replacing. “We’re replacing a good size section of the roof, the oldest part of the roof, which was put on in 96” stated Daigle. “So the entire middle school wing will have a new roof on it over the summer, and a section of the library.”


How can students help?


Many problems with Harwood can be attributed to normal wear and tear. But, a lot of problems can also be traced to the students. “There are a lot of things that we have to repair purely as a result of human interface,” says Daigle.


“You know, when students destroy a bathroom stall, it’s hundreds of dollars, and hours of time.”


Daigle continued: “I think if everyone is mindful about their impact on the environment in the school, people just dropping litter, spilling water, damaging things.” In previous years, it wasn’t that big of deal, “but nowadays, we’re short handed. You’ve got 173,000 square feet of building that needs to be cleaned every single day. We’ve got the two guys at night, doing their best to clean everything. They’ve got to clean all of the bathrooms. They’ve got to do all of the floors. The guys during the day come in and pick up anything that the night guys couldn’t get to. The guys at night are here until midnight.”


Ultimately, students can’t create funding out of thin air or fill positions on the janitorial staff. However, we can help in our own ways. Harwood will continue to run strong as long as we hold ourselves accountable and make an effort to minimize our impact on the school’s facilities.