Hockey enlivens school budget discussion at Bedford deliberative session

Bedford School District’s Deliberation Session in the theater at Bedford High School on Feb. 4 saw the liveliest discussions of the evening occur when the establishment of a girls hockey team at the high school level was raised.

Two microphones, one on each side of the theater, accommodated residents at the Deliberative Session. There was an audience of more than 150 residents and onlookers with questions and comments about the school district’s budget, health care contributions, salary increases, allotments for new computer equipment, text books for the schools and many other matters.

The total operating budget for fiscal year 2014 was noted as $62,660,875. The proposed fiscal year 2015 budget was noted as $64,253, 874. The increase is a sum of $1,592,999. The estimated increase in taxes on a home valued at $350,000 was projected to bump up by $228.

Eventually, after much discussion and a vote to cease the commentary, the audience cast their secret ballots to determine whether or not to add a sum of $39,500 to the budget to fund a girls hockey program.

Resident Ken Lambert, who coaches hockey, initiated the motion. He offered a detailed list of expenditures that would be required to conduct the program. He noted the success of boys hockey and the enthusiasm of the girls he knows are hoping to play.

Some who approached the microphone to comment on the hockey proposal said that, while they fully backed the girls willingness to devote time to the sport, they had misgivings that the expenditure was not appropriate in the days of tight budgets. Others who commented were fully supportive. At one point, Lambert received a round of applause from audience members in favor of girls hockey at Bedford High. A vote was taken.

Each voter raised a green, identification card when asked for a “yes” vote to add the funds. Then, those who opposed the motion were asked to raise their cards. The count was close enough to warrant a secret ballot. Most in the audience filed down to the stage and, one by one, cast their secret votes. The hockey program proposition was defeated with a vote of 155-76.

The community of taxpayers heard from an panel that included Terry Wolf, chair of the Bedford School Board, Tim Mayes, superintendent of the Bedford School District, and nine other members and affiliates of the School Board.

Several parents offered kudos to the school board. One parent described moving to Bedford because of the town’s opportunities for a quality education. She said the school district had received national recognition for excellence and that it gave her children the “best bang for the buck” when it comes to education.

The Session II gathering that will entail voting on the budget also includes voting to fill two seats on the School Board with a term of three years. Candidates for the School Board openings are residents Bill Foote, Bill Kassler, Aaron Day and Jen DeAngelis.

The elections that day also will see the installation of candidates for town posts in Bedford. The Town Council has two seats available for a term of three years. Candidates are residents Jim Aguiar, Christopher Bandazian, David Coles and Matt Philips.

There is one seat open for Library Trustee, a post entailing three years of service. Candidates are residents Anthony J. Frederick Jr. and Bill Duschatko. An opening also exists for a Trustee of the Trust Funds – one seat with a three-year term.

Candidate Ryk Bullock has withdrawn. Those with a write-in candidate in mind should be prepared to name the person at the upcoming election.

Full details of every aspect of the total operating budget, including allotments for each of Bedford’s six schools, costs for special education, district-wide expenditures related to salaries, supplies, texts and equipment, along with expenses related to food service, maintenance and school administrative costs, are outlined online at www.sau25.net.

Voting on the school district ballot scheduled from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday, March 11, at Bedford High School, 47 Nashua Road.

For more information on school district matters, visit the Bedford School District online at www.sau25.net or to learn more about elections for posts within the town of Bedford government, visit www.bedfordnh.org.