School Committee Looks Ahead to the 2021-22 School Budget

Will the Bedford schools still be adapting to Covid-19 limitations and protocols when the 2021-22 academic year opens in September?

Obviously, right now nobody knows. But the professional and elected school leadership is not taking any chances.

The budget process for the next fiscal year now underway is more complicated than any of its predecessors. Still, Superintendent of Schools Philip Conrad told the School Committee on Tuesday he hopes to have a draft budget ready for members’ review before the end of the month.

“We are going to be talking about this same model moving forward, or leading to a full return to everybody; or K through five back and older kids hybrid,” said School Committee Chair Dan Brosgol. “We will spend the next few weeks making the numbers make sense for us.”

Said Finance Director Julie Kirrane, “All of our school leaders with budgetary authority have received direction on how to identify needs for the upcoming year.” Their budget drafts are due on Dec. 11.

Conrad added, “We asked folks to plan for level services, but also for some of the tools that we have brought into the district that need to stay because they are wonderful educationally — or for continued Covid impact.”

The budget timetable includes the initial presentation to the School Committee on Dec. 22, continuing scrutiny on Jan. 5 and 12, the statutory community budget hearing on Jan. 19 and the presentation to the Finance Committee on Jan. 22.

Conrad said the process is “compressed, ambitious and aggressive,” with school leaders being asked to “complete a complicated budget with a lot of unknowns.” This means there will be “a couple of different looks at what school would look like, proactively planning resources that would support that kind of operations continuing for part of next year.”

“I don’t know if a line-by-line review of the budget makes sense this year,” Brosgol observed, since with the exigencies of virus adjustments “we can’t really compare this year and last year.”

But the framework for the entire discussion, he said, should be: “How do we teach all of our kids in all of our spaces safely?”

Mike Rosenberg can be reached at mike@thebedfordcitizen.org, or 781-983-1763
Click this link to learn more about The Bedford Citizen’s first community reporter.


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