At their June 16 meeting, the School Committee approved the 2020-21 school year budget, approved changes to the JGMS and BHS handbooks, and approved a two-month contract for retiring Superintendent Jon Sills to assume an associate superintendent position from July 1 through August 31, 2020.
2020-21 School Year Budget
Following a series of previous meetings discussing proposed revisions to the 2020-21 school budget, the School Committee confirmed a $1,278,000 reduction. The approved budget stands at $42,031,459, a 0.4 percent increase from the previous school budget.
Following many comments from the public and requests from members of the School Committee, Superintendent Jon Sills and Director of Finance Julie Kirrane provided a budget that best met their requests.
Under the approved budget, world language for third graders will be retained, a goal of many of the School Committee members. Utilizing modified schedules, third graders will receive 45 minutes of world language and time for book exchange in the library every other week. This time, Sills explained, would equate to roughly fifteen minutes with the remainder of the time to equip students with computer skills to help other students deal with the possibility of online learning.
The reduction to the Gifted and Talented position will remain; however, the program will not be dissolved. The program will continue as “enrichment” during the 2020-21 school year.
At Davis, one of the previously removed Behavior Health Teaching Assistant positions will be included in this budget. Sills highlighted that Davis will have five more special educators than the previous year, as this programming is a focus of the district.
In addition to the various other changes, the district will hire an additional third-grade teacher to help with the influx of students. Third grade is the largest in the school system.
To ensure a balanced budget, the district will have to cut 15 percent of supplies and materials, increased from the previously proposed 10 percent cut.
John Glenn Middle School Assistant Principal Nick Bacigalupi addressed the Committee on proposed changes to the JGMS Handbook. Such changes include amending the dress code, a student bill of rights, and increasing the use of restorative practices. The changes to the handbook were approved unanimously.
Bedford High School Assistant Principal Thomas Casey, joined by fellow Assistant Principal Daniel Hudder and Principal Heather Galante, addressed the Committee on proposed changes to the BHS Handbook. Such edits include amending registration, leaving school, homework policy, and honor roll, among other policies.
Principal Galante also provided an additional memo that proposed eliminating midyear and final exams. She cited eliminating these exams as a way to increase instructional time. Galante further explained that under the school’s commitment to Challenge Success, the administration wants to move away from high stakes exams that comprise a large percentage of a student’s grade-point-average.
Multiple School Committee members raised concerns over the amendments to the registration policy due to the updated policy’s unclear wording.
Other Committee members voiced concerns over the proposed honor roll policy that condensed the honor roll into one category, recognizing all students who earned an average grade of 85 or above.
The School Committee confirmed an adaptation of the proposed handbook that “embedded” exams in the four quarters of the year, rather than setting aside a week of time for exams but omitted changes to registration and the honor roll. The changes were passed unanimously.
As incoming Superintendent Philip Conrad’s contract begins on July 1, the School Committee approved a contract that allows current Superintendent Jon Sills to serve from July 1 to August 31, 2020, as an Associate Superintendent during the transition. The contract is for $37,750.