Fayston Elementary School

The future of Fayston Elementary School has been a major issue for the Harwood Union school board.

The Harwood Union school board is studying a budget proposal that would cut spending nearly $1 million dollars but still raise taxes.

The proposal caps an increase in per-pupil education spending at 2.2 percent, or $18,360 per pupil. To hit that mark, the district would need to cut expenditures by $908,714.

Among the proposed savings:

• $155,080 by cutting world language education for pre-K-4 students.

• $150,000 by cutting fifth and sixth grades from Moretown Elementary, eliminating two teaching jobs.

• $75,000 by eliminating a chorus and band teacher for students in grades five and six.

Even with the cuts, taxpayers would be looking at a 3 percent increase in expenditures — the number that appears on the ballot at town meeting — from $38,600,862 approved last March to $39,748,428.

The increase comes even as enrollment continues to shrink, from 1,808 equalized pupils this year to 1,755 projected for the coming school year.

Déjà vu all over again

A year ago, the school board had directed administrators to devise a budget with no increase in the tax rate. And just like this year, the cuts have had a direct impact on student learning.

The board’s directive to cap the increase in per-pupil spending at 2.2 percent followed an earlier proposal that would have raised per-pupil spending by 5.1 percent.

Taxation

The districtwide tax rate for the current budget is $1.63 for every $100 of appraised property value. However, the actual amount varies from one town to the next, depending on each town’s common level of appraisal, a measurement of how closely town assessments match market values.

Under the proposal with the 2.2 percent increase, the districtwide tax rate would rise to $1.65; under the earlier 5.5 percent proposal, the tax rate would rise to $1.69.

The Waterbury Record will offer coverage of Wednesday night’s meeting next week.

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