Submitted by Philip Conrad
On behalf of the Bedford School Committee, I am pleased to present the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) School Department Budget. This budget totals $42,031,459, which is a 0.4% increase over the current adjusted FY20 operating budget of $41,844,365. The School Committee also received Finance Committee approval for a $450,000 reserve fund transfer to cover extraordinarily large increases in our special education out of district expenses. This budget reflects reductions made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This budget preserves class size and all academic programs (some through creative restructuring), social and emotional supports, academic supports, and athletics. While extracurricular activities have been preserved as well, advisors will experience reduced schedules and stipends. We have added counseling and special education staff, and we have limited library time for third grade in order to partially make up for critical lost literacy learning due to school closure. Thanks to the cooperation of the Bedford Educators Association and all non-union personnel, who agreed to a 0% cost of living adjustment (COLA), most staff positions have been preserved.
Fortunately, CARES Act 3 and state technology funds have made it possible to purchase critical COVID-19 health, safety, and technology materials and supplies for the fall without putting pressure on this scaled-down operating budget. We do anticipate increased costs to reopening schools, and we are waiting for further guidance from the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on exactly what those costs will be. We hope that those expenses to be covered by the next round of federal CARES Act funding, which will be released in mid-July. The Select Board, the School Committee and the Finance Committee have committed to reevaluating the budget in November for Special Town Meeting. If additional monies are needed then beyond the federal funding, we will look to utilize reserve funds to cover the increased costs.
I am happy to report that the JGMS addition/renovation and the BHS D-wing renovation (following the pre-school and CASE Collaborative classroom moves to Davis School) are both on time despite the COVID- 19 caused disruptions, and are expected to be ready when school starts in the fall.
The School Committee and school department appreciate the Bedford community’s commitment to quality education for all of its students. New families are drawn to Bedford because of the town’s reputation for quality services and excellent education. The following pages include details of the FY21 proposed budget in terms of budget categories, percentage increases, and enrollment increases. I hope you find the information useful. Please refer to our website to see a more detailed budget explanation, with rationales for each of the increases requested.
If you have any questions about the proposed budget, please feel free to contact me at 781-275-7588.