By Lisa Loomis

The Harwood Unified Union School District board will hold two informational meetings in advance of plans for an April 30 revote on the district budget.

At a special meeting on April 3 the board opted to bring a $48,888,319 budget back to voters after a $50.8 million budget was defeated at Town Meeting, 2,640 to 1,139. The board is holding two informational meetings to discuss the budget with district voters in the coming weeks.




The first is Thursday, April 18, at 6 p.m. in person and via Zoom/YouTube at Harwood Union High School. The second is Thursday, April 25, at 6 p.m. online via Zoom/ YouTube. Links to participate in that second hearing at on the meeting warning which can be found at Click on the tab for Board at the top and wait for 2023-2024 agendas to load, then click on April 3 agenda and see agenda item five.

The $48,888,319 budget represents a 7.63% increase over the FY2024 budget of $45,422,241. The $1,956,383 it cuts is achieved by assuming that 20% of the current vacant positions will not be filled, saving $406,606. The budget also includes reducing three FTEs through attrition, saving $332,838 and it removes a $1 million line item for the maintenance reserve fund. Other cuts include $297,800 in operations and maintenance, $165,000 from technology, $35,000 from conferences and workshops, $73,000 reduction in supplies, $43,000 reduction in transportation and $18,500 reduction in athletics and co-curriculum.

HUUSD finance director Lisa Estler has reminded the board several times that these budget cuts are one-time cuts that won’t translate into bringing HUUSD’s per pupil spending more in line with state per pupil spending. Under the proposed budget the district cost per equalized pupil would be $15,626.07 – an increase of 3.39% over the current budget. The state’s projected FY2025 equalized per pupil spending is $13,396.

Additionally, H.850 created a five-year diminishing credit for school districts that lost taxing capacity due to Act 127. HUUSD lost 9% of its taxing capacity.

After a five-year diminishing tax rate reduction of nine cents for the FY2025 budget year, the proposed budget results in $1.4726 (pre-CLA) tax rate. This year’s pre-CLA take rate is $1.4420. Because the CLA (Common Level of Appraisal) varies through the six towns in the district, the proposed budget results in education tax increases that range from a low of 13.40% n Duxbury to a high of 22.40% in Warren. See chart 1.

Should the April 30 budget not pass, the board has prepared another budget with further reductions, including cutting 10 more FTEs. That budget, Scenario 4, cuts a total of $3,065,844 from the budget for a bottom line budget of $47,778,859 which is a 5.19% increase over FY2024. It drops the pre-CLA tax rate to $1.4307 (lower than this year’s $1.44) and results in post CLA increases of 10.2 % in Duxbury to 18.9% in Warren.

Scenario 4, despite lowering the tax rate yields double-digit tax increases due to the CLA. Here is how that increase breaks out for a $450,000 in each district town:

Duxbury $867

Fayston $1,039

Moretown $910

Waitsfield $1,490

Warren $1,669

Waterbury $1,172

Estler’s PowerPoint and spreadsheets on the proposed budget and backup budget are linked on the agenda for the April 3 meeting. Those documents include tax impacts for each town as well as detailed increases for houses based on their appraised value.

Ten of the school board’s 14 members adopted the $48,888,319 budget and date for vote. Three of Waterbury’s four board member seats have been vacant since Town Meeting. The board is interviewing candidates for those seats at its April 10 meeting as The Valley Reporter goes to press.

Finally, the board is creating a publicity committee ahead of the revote and is meeting via Zoom on April 11 to get that underway. The link for that meeting is also on the agenda for the meeting, found under the school board at