Voters reject student pleas to pass a budget.

Voters in the Harwood Unified Union School District rejected a second proposed budget 1,731 (52.45%) to 1,565 (47.42%) in district-wide voting on April 30. A total of 3,302 votes were cast this week, compared to the 4,125 that were cast on Town Meeting Day on March 5. See chart for voter turnout.





The budget that was rejected was $48,888,319. That budget would have raised education taxes across the district from 13 to 22% based on each town’s Common Level of Appraisal. In March voters rejected a $50.8 million budget that would have raised taxes 22 to 31.7% across the district and was rejected 2,640 to 1,439.

School district leadership expressed disappointment at this second failed vote and The Valley Reporter’s Harwood Union correspondent Claire Pomer said students weren’t feeling great about the outcome of the vote.


“A lot of us are disappointed and angry,” Pomer said.

In an email to the community, HUUSD superintendent Dr. Mike Leichliter and school board chair Ashley Woods and vice-chair Cindy Senning highlighted some of the challenges the district faced this budget season.

“The last few months have been challenging for our schools and our community. Going into this budget season the administration and school board had to make some difficult decisions regarding programs, services, and personnel knowing that, among other factors, our federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) money was expiring while the lingering academic, social, and emotional impacts from the pandemic are still a reality for many of our students,” leadership wrote.





“Additionally, with changes from Vermont Act 127 having a negative impact on our district finances we are aware that we still have challenging decisions ahead of us. The school board has already discussed a contingency plan if this second budget was not successful and more budget reductions were necessary. The school board and administration will work collaboratively with town clerks in order to establish a date for a third vote as soon as possible,” they continued.


When the board meets again on May 8 it will be to consider a third budget that had been queued up in advance of this week’s vote. That third budget cuts $3,065,844 and comes in at $47,778, 859. When that budget was last discussed at the board level preliminary figures showed that it would result in a pre-CLA tax rate of $1.44 which compares to the current tax rate of $1.4420. This third budget represents an increase of 5.19%. Preliminary data show that will translate to these post-CLA increases for local towns:

  • Duxbury 10.2%
  • Fayston 12.9%
  • Moretown 10.5%
  • Waitsfield 18.3%
  • Warren 18.9%
  • Waterbury 13.7%

The HUUSD school budget was one of seven voted down on April 30. Rutland Northeast, Champlain Island Unified Union School district, Rutland Town School District, Franklin Northeast and Missisquoi Valley voters rejected their budgets. The Montpelier Roxbury School District budget passed, as did Addison Northwest, Holland, and Northern Mountain Valley School District.