The Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board will vote on next year’s budget as The Valley Reporter goes to press on Wednesday, January 17. Based on a straw vote at the group’s last meeting, the budget is expected to pass.

The total budget amounts to $37,183,150, up 2.4 percent from last year’s budget. It includes teacher reductions at Warren and Fayston as well as an increase in interventionists at almost every elementary school.

Fayston representative Jill Ellis explained that she supports the budget even with the teacher reductions. Nease explained that no one would lose his or her job.

The total FTE (full-time equivalent) for the district increased with the addition of interventionists. Vice chair Gabe Gilman noted that it is odd to have an increase in FTE given the current climate. However, he supported the budget fully and commended the administration and the board for a successful budgeting season.

The district spending per equalized pupil increased 2.1 percent, from $16,790 to $17,137, which is under the governor’s request of 2.5 percent and the penalty level of $17,816.

“We’re not in any way triggering the current excess spending threshold,” said Michelle Baker, director of finance and operations at the HUUSD.

Currently the education tax yield for fiscal year 2019 is $8,842, leading to an equalized homestead tax rate of $1.74.

With the 8-cent tax incentive for the second year of the Act 46 merger, the homestead tax rate for the district is $1.66, up from $1.55 last year.

Board members also had to decide what to do with a FY2017 fund balance of $997,260. The board voted unanimously to put $533,959 into a maintenance reserve fund and put $463,301 toward future budgets.

Board members opted not to put any into the next year’s budget because of the amount of projects that the facilities workgroup identified and noted at their last board meeting.