At their May 12 meeting, the Bedford School Committee approved a 3-year contract for Superintendent nominee Philip Conrad, set the last day of school for students as of June 18, heard updates from current Superintendent Jon Sills, and voted not to allow students from neighboring districts to attend Bedford Schools through school choice.
Superintendent Contract Vote
The School Committee unanimously approved a contract for superintendent nominee Philip Conrad to become Superintendent on July 1, 2020. This contract will be in effect through June 30, 2023. The specifics of the contract were based on researching recent contracts at similar school districts for newly-hired superintendents.
School Calendar Revision: Last Day of School Vote
After having received the Department of Secondary Education’s guidelines on how to calculate the exact end date, the School Committee voted to confirm June 18 as the final day of school for students. Teachers will conclude the 2019-2020 school year on June 19. This end date reflected the School Committee’s earlier decision to forgo spring break, as well as the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE’s) decision to forgive any other unexpected cancellation of schools.
As part of his report, Superintendent Jon Sills touched on the future of online learning, the budget, and other impacts on the school district.
Sills expressed his satisfaction with how socially distanced learning has gone since schools were closed by Governor Baker on March 16. He applauded the teachers and administrators at each of the four schools for their hard work and commitment to educating students. Sills also announced the establishment of a task force that will work on moving forward with online learning. The task force will be comprised of various members of the school district and town, including parents.
Sills, assisted by Director of Finance Julie Kirrane, reviewed the status of the current FY20 budget, which has seen reduced spending in some lines such as transportation and temporary labor. Sills also said due to the transition to online learning, the district purchased hotspots, insurance for Chromebooks, and software, as well as other products. These unanticipated costs contributed to the $50,000 deficit in the Operating Expenses for Services account.
Sills also speculated that due to the decrease in Chapter 70 funding and possible loss in revenue for the Commonwealth, Bedford Public Schools could lose between $1,000,000 and $1,500,000 in State funding in the next fiscal year.
School Choice Vote
As it does annually, the Bedford School Committee discussed whether or not to accept students from neighboring school districts through “school choice.” Regardless of the Committee’s decision, students who currently reside in Bedford are allowed to attend neighboring schools that allow for school choice. The School Committee unanimously voted to continue to not allow students from neighboring school districts to enter Bedford Public Schools through school choice.