Submitted by Superintendent Jon Sills
Dear Bedford Resident,
On behalf of the Bedford School Committee, I am pleased to present the FY16 School Department Budget. This budget, as approved by the Bedford School Committee and Finance Committee, totals $36,596,579, which is a 3.85% increase over the current adjusted FY15 operating budget of $35,240,054*. The proposed FY16 budget is essentially a maintenance of service budget (3.21%), with additional increases in a few select areas: enrollment increases, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, social-emotional support personnel, and in-house special education programming.
Editor’s Note: Click FY16 Budget Newsletter to read the full 6-page text of the School Department’s Newsletter, including tables of back-up data
The Bedford Public Schools community is appreciative of the support afforded by Bedford’s taxpayers. Our high performing schools nurture intellectual curiosity, creative expression, independent thinking and skillful problem solving. We are deeply committed to ensuring the academic success of all of our students. The art, music, wellness and technology programs continue to trigger the passions of so many students, as support for a well-rounded education reflects these enduring community values. Rigorous coursework and supportive teachers yield knowledgeable graduates who respect each other’s differences and who enjoy a deepening understanding of themselves and their world. Our college-attending alumni invariably describe their preparation as superior to their classmates’.
In our ongoing work to enhance the learning experience for all of our students, to close achievement gaps where they exist, and to better meet the needs of a rapidly changing world, BPS educators are guided by strategic planning, and ongoing reflection, research and data review. Three budget-impacting areas that we have identified for improvement in FY16 include:
Increasing support for regular and special education students encountering social-emotional challenges
expanding students STEM learning opportunities at the middle school, and
creating new in-house special education programs for students with autism (a sub-separate program at Davis) and more challenging emotional disabilities (a self-contained program at BHS)
Our existing in-house special education programs continue to provide alternatives to outplacements that are less restrictive for the students involved and more cost effective for the district. In FY15 alone, these programs are projected to save or avoid
$3.7 million in out-of-district spending.
At the same time, Bedford faces the third year in a row of significant kindergarten enrollment increases. As we add the requisite staff, we are conducting an enrollment study to determine whether this increase is a temporary spike or a longer term trend. To accommodate the additional classrooms this year, we added two modular classrooms at Davis. Accordingly, we have a placeholder in the FY16 budget for a feasibility study for potential building additions at Davis, Lane and JGMS. This year’s capital budget, the first of a six year town-wide capital plan, also addresses the need to thoughtfully maintain and appropriately expand our technology infrastructure and learning programs.
Bedford’s unyielding commitment to education presents the schools with an awesome responsibility. We are tasked to plan thoughtfully, to spend wisely and to maximize value, all in the service of doing right by each and every child. We are proud to be a leader among other high performing districts, and a facile learner in an ever-changing educational environment. We thank you for your support. The following pages include details of the FY16 proposed budget in terms of budget categories, percentage increases, and enrollment increases. I hope you find the information informative. If you have any questions about the proposed budget, please feel free to contact me at 781-275-7588.
Jon Sills, Superintendent of Schools
*This figure is adjusted to account for the Finance Committee’s decision to remove utilities from all of the FY16 operating budgets, and for the transfer of computer purchases from the operating to the capital budget. It also omits a $516,000 offset for military mitigation funding due to the governor’s intention to eliminate it from the FY16 budget, a decision that we and our legislative representatives are actively contesting.