The HUUSD School Board met Wednesday evening. The majority of Wednesday’s meeting focused on the exciting task of finalizing the scope of the bond to be presented to voters on November 2nd, and approving an official warning.
Discussion began with a review of operational cost savings that will be possible once the bond project is completed. Conservative estimates are that the district will save at least $600,000 per year, which will help offset the annual cost of the bond by almost 17%. Savings would mainly come from bringing all 7th and 8th graders together at CBMS, improving energy efficiency at Harwood, and reducing rent by relocating the central office staff and HCLC students to the high school campus.
The Board also reviewed the effect of the bond on property taxes. In general, the bond is projected to increase the equalized education tax rate by about 8%. However, about two-thirds of our district’s households pay income-sensitized property taxes and many of these families would likely see no increase in the taxes they pay. (Since the meeting, through conversation with the state’s tax department, the Board has learned more specifics: for those households who earn less than $90,000 and whose housesite is valued below $400,000, the income-sensitized property tax credit will increase by the same amount as any property taxes increase, thus leaving net property taxes paid the same. Effectively, property taxes would not increase for these households. For those who make more than $90,000 or whose homes are valued above $400,000, the bond would increase property taxes by about $360 for a $250K home, $500 for a $350K home, and $725 for a $500K home.)
After some rich discussion and broad agreement on most considerations, the Board approved a warning that will put a single question before voters on November 2, to approve a bond for $59,545,312. These funds would be used to address much needed upgrades at the high school in the categories of compliance and repairs, efficiencies and improvements and educational alignment (including both a second gym and new track) as well as an addition to Crossett Brook Middle School to accommodate all district middle schoolers.
All are invited to an informational hearing regarding the bond proposal on October 27th at 6pm at the Harwood Library. There will also be a remote option available for the public.
In addition to the actions taken on the bond, the Board heard a report on PCB testing options and continues to gather information about how to approach this within our district while we await further state guidance. Additionally, with regards to the search for a new superintendent, the board approved a timeline for the search process and created an ad-hoc committee to start work on the job description and drafting a contract for that new position.
The Board will next meet on Wednesday, October 13 at 6PM. This will be a hybrid meeting that can be attended in-person or remotely via zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/386460007), or viewed on youtube (tinyurl.com/huwebapp-youtube-live). There is extensive information on the bond planning available on the district’s website: https://huusd.org/bond-plan.
As always, the Board welcomes feedback from our community. One of the easiest ways to share your thoughts is to send an email to [email protected], which will go to every Board member. There is also time at every Board meeting for public comment. Alternately, reach out to one of your neighbors who is on the school board and share your thoughts in a personal email or phone call (see a list of Board members and contact information at https://tinyurl.com/523wtrnj).