Vitally important issues facing Bedford

To the Editor:

Now that all the presidential candidates have moved on, it’s time to focus on the next very important time to vote in Bedford – the local town and School District elections scheduled for Tuesday, March 8, from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. at Bedford High School.

Everyone on the ballot for both the town and school elected positions is unopposed, but there are several vitally important issues on the school side that need the voters’ approval.

One of the most important issues is the School District’s budget. Bedford has always been a frugal town and our per capita spending is more than $2,000 below the state average with all grades combined. There are many things that have combined to make that happen. Whenever we have had a student population decline, we have reduced the staff numbers across the board. We have always looked at each expenditure carefully and tried to maintain the excellence in our award-winning Bedford schools while keeping the taxes as low as possible.

This year, however, we are faced with several challenges. The Bedford School District has more students than ever. A few years ago we saw decreased enrollment in the elementary schools and cut some teaching positions. Those numbers have started to grow again. To maintain class sizes at effective levels, we need to hire four more elementary teachers as well as return some of our positions in art, music and physical education to full time. They had been reduced to part time when student numbers dropped.

A special education resource room teacher is needed, as well as three paraprofessionals to accommodate our special education population. We are also recommending an increase in hours for the SEED teacher at Lurgio Middle School who works with our accelerated learners full time so that more students can be challenged to even greater heights.

With the opioid crisis hitting our town and state, we strongly support an increased emphasis on prevention in our schools. Accordingly, the proposed budget includes the addition of a full-time drug and alcohol counselor at Lurgio-BHS.

There are also a few other vital personnel additions that would be funded with the new budget. The School Board has analyzed all of these additions carefully to make sure that they are truly needed for our students.

So please come to the polls on March 8 and support the Bedford schools and our children and vote for the School District’s budget.

Bedford School Board

Bill Kassler, Scott Earnshaw, Cindy Chagnon, Bill Foote, Phil Schappler