Voters in the Washington West Supervisory Union School Distsrict approved Harwood Union’s proposed 2011/2012 budget of $12,005,768 1465 to 721 in Australian ballot voting at Town Meeting this week.
The March 1 vote gave approval to a budget that is pared down by $188,000, or 1.01 percent over last year’s budget. Harwood Union High School serves Warren, Waitsfield, Fayston, Moretown, Duxbury and Waterbury. Harwood Union Middle School serves Warren, Waitsfield, Fayston and Moretown.
Voters also approved a $50,000 bond vote for new tanks for the school’s water system. That bond article passed 1721 yes to 450 no.
budget and the bond article were explained to voters in the Washington West
Supervisory Union at Harwood's annual meeting on February 26.
The budget reflects declining enrollment at the local high school as well as the school board's commitment to comply with the Vermont Department of Education's Challenge for Change. That challenge spelled out targeted reductions in spending at schools across the state.
To achieve the $188,000 reduction in the proposed 2011/2012 budget of $12,005,768, the school board cut an English language learner position by .67 FTE (full time equivalent), reduced by .50 FTE a technical educator position and reduced by .20 FTE a music position.
This year's budget reflects a projected enrollment next year of 766 students, down from 780 students this year and down from Harwood's recent peak enrollment of 862 in 2004/2005.
The article calling for $50,000 to replace the water storage tanks for Harwood Union's water supply is necessary to keep the school open. The original tanks from when the school was built in 1966 are rusted through and must be replaced or the state will close the school.
Having voters approve a bond vote for replacing the cisterns allows the school to take advantage of a one-time state debt forgiveness of $25,000 leaving the net cost to taxpayers at $25,000. If the $50,000 for the water tanks were included in the regular budget, there would be no forgiveness and the cost of the project would be $50,000.