The Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board got their first look at the 2019 fiscal year budget.

The HUUSD administrative team put together the initial suggested budget, which is solely focused on general fund expenditures because revenue estimates and equalized pupil figures will not be released from the Agency of Education until mid-December.

The initial budget includes a 3.6 percent increase in expenditures with most in increases to salaries and rising health care costs as part of the new contracts that the HUUSD Board negotiated this summer with its staff. The draft budget for next year is slated to come in at $37,597,585, an increase of $1,303,272 over the current budget of $36,294,313. That includes $592,500 in negotiated salary increases.

The VEHI plans’ premiums, which the HUUSD staff choose from, rose 10 percent across the board, according to board chair Christine Sullivan. Health care costs are expected to rise $285,000, an increase of 0.8 percent, and there are also contractual changes that will increase the percentage that educators pay for their health care premiums from the current 14 percent to 20 percent by next July.

Additionally, the budget includes a 0.3 percent increase as part of the Vermont legislative recapture through Act 85. The HUUSD will have to pay back $102,772.

Along with new expenditures, including the alignment of The Valley’s pre-K programs and changes to world language programs, the budget includes a list of savings that came as a result of the Act 46 merger.

Since the HUUSD only had to complete one audit for the entire school district, the district saves $9,700. By buying heating oil in bulk, based on $2.75 per gallon, the school district saves $67,750. The HUUSD’s change in insurance carriers saved the district $15,000 and because there is only one board, instead of seven, the HUUSD saved $21,500, according to their budget.

The changes to world language include an additional 1.0 FTE world language teacher at both Thatcher Brook Primary School and Crossett Brook Middle School and an increase from 0.4 FTE to 0.5 FTE in The Valley’s elementary schools. Those changes will cost $183,400, collectively.

Proposed staffing changes also add $90,452 to the budget.

The HUUSD administration proposed a 2.4 FTE reduction in K-6 teachers for 2019, 1.4 FTE from Fayston Elementary and 1.0 FTE from Warren Elementary. The budget states, “This change aligns most classrooms in all grade levels to the optimal average range per grade cluster,” per the Agency of Education’s recommendations.

The HUUSD administration also proposed adding three tier II interventionists to the school district, one in each elementary school in Moretown, Waitsfield and Fayston, and a net reduction of 3.1 FTE instructional assistants. Crossett Brook would reduce 1.0 FTE, Fayston 0.6 FTE and 1.5 FTE in Warren.

Additionally, the administration proposed returning to 2.0 FTE principals at Harwood High School, which they do not have currently because of Amy Rex’s resignation last June, increased data management by 0.4 FTE, increased technology integration by 0.4 FTE and increased guidance at Moretown and Fayston elementary schools to align with Warren and Waitsfield elementary schools.