The Harwood Unified Union School District Board is in the process of completing the Fiscal Year 2022 budget for the next school year. The Board will meet on January 13 for continued discussion before meeting on January 27 to finalize and warn the budget for the Town Meeting Day ballot ( March 2, 2021). There will be time set aside at the beginning of each of these meetings for public comment. Those wishing to provide feedback or input can also email the board directly at [email protected].
The FY 2022 budget, last projected to be $40,568,346, includes no changes in programming or HUUSD building configurations. It does include increases for classroom staffing, special education, and nursing. Funding has been added for a new District Human Resources professional, legal expenses, and a Superintendent search. Despite these line item increases, the Board has been able to offset some of the budget expense by using surplus funds from FY 2020 to limit an increase in education spending. This was last projected to be 2.67% of the current year's budget, which is less than the statewide projected increase of 3.79%. However, the board has also decided to reinstate monies cut from the last budget for professional development and has yet to consider what might be needed for architectural services for the purpose of a Harwood bond.
The Board continues to advocate for the upkeep and building maintenance needs of our seven campuses, and currently plans to ask voters to approve an article devoting $1 million in surplus towards the District's Maintenance Reserve Fund. Our auditing firm continues to support this ongoing strategy. The Board is also considering a ballot question asking voters to approve setting aside the remaining balance of $615,456 for future budget or maintenance needs. These contributions will help provide budget and tax stability in coming years. While we do not yet know the impact of Covid on the current fiscal year, these funds will also serve as a cushion should pandemic-related expenses push us into a spending deficit for the year.
At this time, we await confirmation of our equalized pupil count from the state and are using an estimate to arrive at projected per pupil education spending, a figure needed to determine the equalized tax rate. The current projection for HUUSD per pupil spending is $18,951. This remains below the state excess spending threshold. If accurate, this will result in an increase of the equalized homestead tax rate to $1.74. This rate includes a two cent reduction - the last of our Act 46 voluntary merger incentives and is 11 cents higher than the equalized tax rate for FY 2021. These numbers could change due to the additional expenses that the board voted to approve at its last meeting or if the state confirms a student count other than what we have assumed. As a result of changes to the CLA, the local tax rate in each of our six towns will be higher than the equalized tax rate. Projected local tax rates will be available as part of the updated budget materials for our January 13, 2021, Board meeting packet.
Budget development materials can be found on the district website, under the Business Office tab at https://huusd.org/business-office. Board meeting information, including agendas, meeting packets, and links to meeting videos can be found at https://huusd.org/huusd-board. We hope you will stay apprised of the process and provide your thoughts and feedback to the Board as we work towards finalizing a budget that best supports the needs of our students and which our voters can support on Town Meeting Day 2021.
The HUUSD Board