The Harwood Unified Union School District’s bond committee continues to work on defining the school and costs of a bond that will come before voters in November 2024.



The committee met last week on September 6 to discuss the latest status of their work. Following a planned tour of Harwood to observe firsthand the needed improvements, David Epstein of TruexCullins provided information about the schedule going forward. By October, the group hopes to have assembled a variety of plans to show available options for work to be done through the bond. The projects fall into three categories: work needed for basic repairs and compliance; improvements; and educational alignments. After getting pricing for each of these options, the group plans a series of community conversations in November to share what’s on the table and learn more about what residents are willing to support.

“Both internally here and in the community, there can be a conversation about, do the people support it?” Epstein said. “You know, it’s human nature – ‘Do you support the gym?’ ‘Well, how much is it?’”

The group discussed the public conversation period, which is planned to allow enough time for the subsequent decision-making aspects of the process. They noted that the timing is also complicated because the architect needs information about the project’s scope to create a set of options, but then needs enough time to create the plan for the bond vote.

First, pricing will be broadly determined on larger-scale items, such as the building of a new gym. Other aspects of the project, such as educational alignment, represent items that could be added, rather than only those that require repair or replacement. The smaller details can be worked out once the larger scope of the project is in place.

A bond vote failed November 2021 in the district, and the project’s pricing will be entirely different from the last time the bond was considered, Epstein said, noting that 2020 pricing is no longer in effect and “you have to redo the estimates with today’s dollars.”


Another complicating factor is PCB testing in the district. The state legislature is to provide money for needed repairs, but testing has only taken place so far at one district school – Warren – with no results yet. In the past, Epstein said, the practice has been to simply allocate an amount in the bond in anticipation of these potential costs.

“Maybe the state’ll pick it up, maybe they won’t, but it’s in there.”

Other needed work includes underslab pipe plumbing, Epstein said, which should be done as part of such a large construction project. “We don’t want to build, spend all this money, and not replace it, because it’s underneath,” he said.

Other aspects discussed included roof replacement, new sprinkler heads, a maker space in the building (potentially with public access), windows, the library, and track resurfacing – itself potentially a $1M project – among many other aspects of the building, facilities, and activities.

Air conditioning and dehumidification are also on the table, as is the potential of an energy modeling study, which would help voters to see how much any energy efficiency improvements would save in the long run.

The group then went over space needs in Harwood, and discussed the possibility of touring Winooski High School, which recently underwent a significant renovation, in the future.