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Waterbury, Vermont 05676

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Subject: HUUSD Budget update / Important meeting Jan 15th

January 14, 2020

Dear members of our six town community,

 

As you may have been hearing from headlines and news stories, this is a tough school budget year around the state. We want to make sure our voters are aware of the financial challenges school districts are facing and the work we are doing to address them. 

 

The HUUSD has been making good progress in its long-term preK-12 planning effort -- identifying major changes that will reduce operational costs across the system while also improving opportunities for our students. But even as we plan ahead to re-configure our district in the coming years, we face huge challenges right now to balance affordability and excellence in next year’s budget. The combination of reduced merger tax incentives, dramatic increases in health care costs, lower pupil counts, and property value fluctuations (among other things) mean that actual tax rates in our towns could increase by 4.0% to 8.7%.  

 

In response to this high number, the Board has asked for several additional budget plans to be developed -- each of which makes different levels or types of cuts -- to see if there are opportunities to reduce expenditures next year and what those opportunity costs might be. Each of the plans has pros and cons, and many of them include significant changes in how and where we teach our kids. At our next meeting on January 15th, the Board will be reviewing and choosing among the different budget drafts.

 

We are required to pass a budget for voter approval by January 22nd. As we prepare to narrow our choices on the 15th, we are sharing this overview of what will be on the table and our most current numbers: 

 

Budget #1, the original budget, is for $40,472,342. This shows a 4.8% growth in expenditures and a 4.5% increase in equalized per pupil spending, with a 6-cent equalized tax rate increase.

 

 

Budget #2 cuts $950,000 from Budget #1 and includes no new staff; would severely limit intra-district choice for incoming 7th and 8th graders; moves Moretown’s 5th and 6th graders to CBMS next school year; reduces elementary music offerings; and eliminates foreign language K-4. This budget of $39,720,778 shows a 2.9% increase in expenditures and a 2.1% increase in equalized per pupil spending, with a 2-cent equalized tax rate increase.

 

 

Budget #3 reduces Budget #1 by at least $300,000. Among other things, this budget severely limits intra-district choice (IDC) for incoming 7th and 8th graders and prohibits cuts to existing programs. This budget of $40,317,342 shows a 4.4% increase in expenditures and a 4% increase in equalized per pupil spending, with a 5-cent equalized tax rate increase.

 

 

Budget #4 reduces Budget #1 by at least $300,000. Among other things, this budget would add staff to CBMS to allow the district to approve most IDC applications for incoming 7th and 8th graders. It also prohibits cuts to existing programs. This budget of $40,314,842 shows a 4.4% increase in expenditures and a 4% increase in equalized per pupil spending, with a 5-cent equalized tax rate increase.

 

 

Budget #5 is based on moving all 7th and 8th graders in the district to CBMS for the coming fall. This budget of $39,427,342 shows a 2.1% increase in expenditures and a 1.1% increase in equalized per pupil spending, with a 1-cent equalized tax rate increase.

 

 

Budget #6 is based on moving all 7th and 8th graders to CBMS for the coming fall, and eliminates most new programmatic or operation additions that administrators had requested. This budget of $39,194,842 shows a 1.5% increase in expenditures and a .4% increase in equalized per pupil spending, with a 1-cent equalized tax rate reduction.

 

We hope you will review the details available online at https://huusd.org/business-office by clicking on the “FY21 Budget Development” tab, and welcome you to join us at our next meetings, Wednesday, January 15th and Wednesday, January 22nd at 6:00 pm in the Harwood Union School library. 

 

Respectfully,

 

The HUUSD Board

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