The Harwood Union school district’s first combined budget, $37.18 million, passed 1,135-812 in voting by residents in Harwood’s six towns.
Voters also voted 1,377-542 to put $544,000 in surplus money into a maintenance reserve fund.
The votes were not broken down by town; the district’s position is that Harwood budget covers all schools in Duxbury, Fayston, Moretown, Waitsfield, Warren and Waterbury, and the votes of all residents should be pooled.
The budget puts per-pupil spending in Harwood at $17,137.
Harwood Union High School and Middle School had been a regional initiative of the six towns, but local school districts still controlled the elementary schools until residents voted in 2016 to merge all school operations. That decision took effect July 1, 2017.
The 2017-18 school budget was still composed of the individual school budgets, just all added together.
For 2018-19, Harwood administrators put together what they called a “one-budget budget” for all district schools.
The main driver of this year’s budget was equity across the newly merged school system.
The next school year’s budget evens out preschool programs that currently range from 10 hours to 21 hours; instead, all will be 14 to 16 hours across all five elementary schools.
Thatcher Brook Primary School is also getting a new world languages program — as four other Harwood elementary schools already had. There is also a new math curriculum covering kindergarten to fifth grade.
Teachers across the district merged their unions earlier this year. The union settled on a four-year contract that will give teachers raises of 3 percent a year. The estimated costs of health care are also going up, even through teachers agreed to increase their share of insurance costs to cover 20 percent of premiums.