The Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board is proposing a $50.8 million budget for fiscal year 2025. The $50,844,703 budget is up 11.94% over the FY2024 budget of $45.5 million. The budget includes reduction of over a dozen positions through retirement and attrition. 




The board adopted the budget at its January 31 meeting.

The increases are due to an 8.7% increase in employee salaries (set at just over $2 million), a 14.6% increase in employee benefits (set at $1.3 million), a 9% increase in Special Education services (set at $375,000), an 8% increase in transportation due to Special Education transportation and additional bus transportation (set at $142,500), the addition of a $112,000 Child Care Tax and the addition of $75,000 for Radon testing. 

At its January 31 meeting, HUUSD Director of Finance and Operations Lisa Estler presented initial tax impacts, showing that education taxes are expected to increase. For perspective, she said that in order to maintain the current equalized tax rate (from FY2024) while also meeting student needs and state requirements, the district would have needed to cut expenditures by about $7.3 million – which would translate to cutting personnel by approximately 66 positions. 

Initial tax impacts were based on the HUUSD budget being impacted by Act 127, a 2023 law designed to ‘weigh’ certain students more heavily so that boards with many students needing more funds could raise more funds through taxation. Act 127 also included a 5% cap on increases. Boards were asked to keep per pupil cost increases under 10%. The Harwood budget increases per pupil costs less than 10%.



Creating a formula that allowed some districts to raise more due to student weights, meant that some district were raising less. Late last week legislators indicated a desire to remove the 5% cap that Act 127 set to allow school districts that kept their per pupil spending below 10% to avoid any tax increase over 5%.

In hearings before the House Ways and Means and Education committees this week, legislators presented a possible plan to replace the 5% cap with a plan to help districts that are raising less through taxes with a transition plan that provides those districts with reductions in their homestead tax rate for a percentage of the lost revenues raised through taxes. That reduction diminishes over five years. 

That plan may also include a way for school districts that have already adopted and warned a budget to rework and rewarn their budgets. During testimony this week, House legislators expressed a desire to fast track any changes which would also have to be approved by the Senate where similar legislative changes to Act 127 are contemplated. 

Prior to the legislative changes announced last week, the proposed Harwood budget would have raised the homestead tax rate by $72 per $100,000 of assessed value on each town. That increase is before each town’s Common Level of Appraisal (CLA) is factored in.  

The CLA is used by the state to determine each district and town’s homestead tax rate. It is an assessment of how close each town’s Grand List and property appraisals are to fair market value. FY2024 CLAs in the district range from 73.46% in Warren to 80.85% in Fayston. In FY2022, CLAs in the district ranged from 90.25% in Duxbury to 96.09% in Waitsfield. FY2025 projections show CLAs of 61.30% for Warren to 71.01% for Fayston. 

With projected FY2025 CLAs factored in, the proposed budget would have meant an increase on a house appraised at $350,000 of $1,101 to $1,774 for the coming year. That breaks down to $1,101 for that home in Duxbury, $1,220 for that home in Fayston, $1,143 for that home in Moretown, $1,597 for that home in Waitsfield, $1,774 for that home in Warren and $1,352 for that home in Waterbury.