As The Valley Reporter goes to press on April 3, the Harwood Unified Union School District Board is meeting to finalize a new budget that is $1,956,384 lower than the $5.8 million dollar budget rejected 2,640 to 1,439 at Town Meeting last month. An April 30 revote is currently planned.



That revised budget is 7.63% higher than the current budget and yields a tax rate – after the state’s nine cent reduction this year – of $1.47. Last year’s tax rate was $1.44. That budget results in property tax increases of 13.4% to 22.40% across the district with the lowest increases in Duxbury and the highest in Warren. The rate of increase is tied to each town’s Common Level of Appraisal.

That budget achieves its almost $2 million in savings by removing a proposed $1 million line item for the district’s maintenance reserve fund. It also includes savings, through attrition, of three FTEs (saving $332,838) and another $400,606 in savings that finance director Lisa Estler said represented 20% of salaries for currently open positions.

Those reductions are offset by spending relating to an agreement between the district and its support staff union which adds back $98,111. The district lost Title 1 funding of $400,606 as well.

The balance of the other savings comes from one-time cuts and deferrals including cancelling a snow removal contract, deferring furniture purchases, field trips, athletic equipment and more.


The board, at its March 27 meeting, also asked finance director Lisa Estler to prepare a more draconian version of the budget showing the impacts of cutting it further should the April 30 vote fail. For the board’s March 13 meeting Estler had provided five different budget scenarios with the first being the budget that was voted down at Town Meeting.

The budget the board is proposing is a modified version of Scenario 3 and the one that Estler was presenting on April 3 is a modified Scenario 4. It originally included cutting 13.5 FTEs and a reduction of $3.1 million. Because the proposed budget achieves a cut of 3 FTEs through attrition, a shift to Scenario 4 would mean riffing 10 FTEs and it would mean cuts of $3.5 million after the 20% salary vacancy factor was added in.

During all of the post-Town Meeting budget work, Waterbury has had only one of its four representatives at the table. District populations determine the weight-voting numbers of each district town. Waterbury has four reps and each of the other five towns have two. The Waterbury Select Board met on April 1 to interview four candidates interested in the town’s three open seats on the school board. The board recommended Corey Hackett, Dan Roscioli and Elizabeth Brown to the school board.

The board did not plan to interview the candidates at its meeting on April 3, before it formally adopted the new $48,888, 319 budget and set the date. The board’s next meeting is April 10. Once the school board selects Waterbury board members, those members must be sworn in by their town clerk before serving.

For a full, detailed report on the March 27 meeting, go to and click on education under the sections tab.