News

Bedford voters considering $64.1M school district budget

Friday, January 31, 2014

By LORETTA JACKSON

Staff Writer

Bedford’s School Board held a meeting Jan. 7 that previewed its proposed budget for fiscal year 2014-15 of $64.1 million, representing an increase of $1,479,367 over this year’s budget.

The discussion in the high school’s theater commenced with songs from students in the choir at McKelvie Intermediate School.

The increase was illustrated as a 78 cent hike on each $1,000 of a home’s assessed value. On a $350,000 residential dwelling, the cents per thousand morph into a sum of $273.

School Board Chair Terry Wolf reminded listeners in the auditorium that the Bedford school system has much of which to be proud. The high school recently was voted Best in Northeast by Forbes magazine. It is renowned for winning sports championships. It offers opportunities for students to secure college credits and be involved in community volunteerism. The town’s Memorial School was deemed a Blue Ribbon school by the Department of Education.

Enrollment in the district was described as stable with enrollment between 4,400 and 4,450 students. The proposed budget was said to be sufficient for maintaining moderate class sizes at Bedford’s schools. It covers the payroll for teachers, staff members and administrators. Technology receives a boost with an increase of some 32.4 percent over last year. Initiatives related to increasing academic proficiency, writing skills and math skills remain a high priority.

Board member Cindy Chagnon said Bedford’s efforts toward securing necessary resources is an ongoing effort. She cited Peter Woodbury School as the fastest-growing of Bedford’s schools. Its budget is expected to increase by $100,196. Its 2013-14 budget was $2,642,513. The proposed budget for 2014-15 is $2,742,709.

According to a roundup of budget categories and school district warrants published in the Bedford Journal of Friday, Jan. 24, Memorial School, which had a budget of $2,361,84 last year, is expected to receive in 2014-15 some $2,265,449, a decrease of $96,395. Riddle Brook School is expected to operate on an increase of $52,321, as its budget last year was $2,812,547, as compared to the previous year’s budget of $2,760,226.

“Bedford has always set a very high standard for our schools and our students,” Chagnon said at the meeting.

The high school, Peter Woodbury School, Memorial School and McKelvie Intermediate School were mentioned later regarding expenses expected to be incurred in the next five years with a capital improvement plan that include roof replacements and parking lot restorations. Bedford High was noted as in need of an artificial turf replacement to begin in 2020. The cost, said Scott Earnshaw, vice-chair of the School Board, is reported to be $454,000.

Scott also emphasized the importance of giving students increased access to computer technology. He said access would be enhanced if students each had a device to use for schoolwork. The goal, he said, is “one device per student” for grades 7-12 within five years.

The deliberative session will be held at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 4, at Bedford High School’s theater, 47 Nashua Road. This is a chance to hear and change warrant articles that will appear on the ballot on Election Day, March 11. Any Bedford resident who is registered to vote can participate.

For more information, contact members of the Bedford School Board – Terry Wolf, Scott Earnshaw, Cindy Chagnon, William Foote and Donald Graft – online at www.sau25.net.

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