FY2023 School Budget: $45 Million ~ Public Hearing, Jan. 25 & FinCom Review, Jan. 27

This will be a big week for the proposed fiscal 2023 Bedford Public Schools budget.

The $45,157,090 spending plan will be in the spotlight Tuesday evening, first for a legally required public hearing, which will be followed by an expected approval by the School Committee. The link to the virtual session can be found at www.bedfordps.org.

Then the focus turns to the Finance Committee’s consideration of the budget at a virtual meeting on Thursday. That committee earlier approved a 3.25 percent growth guideline for the education budget; the version shows a rise of 3.5 percent, which has been the Finance Committee guideline in recent years.

School Committee members and Finance Director Julie Kirrane undertook an exhaustive line-by-line review of the proposed fiscal 2023 education budget at last Tuesday’s virtual meeting. Committee members had questions but did not disagree with any of the spending proposals.

“This remains an extremely lean budget,” said member Dan Brosgol. “I’m certainly going to support this and am very encouraged where we are right now.” Member JoAnn Santiago said, “I appreciate the thoughtfulness that went into building this budget.” Added Brad Morrison, “It is presented with a high level of transparency.”

Introducing the discussion, Superintendent of Schools Philip Conrad referenced “our goal of educating all the children to the highest degree. Even though tonight we are going to talk about money, all of these numbers represent service for children. My job is to make sure that I create the atmosphere, the culture, to really make sure that every child gets what they need through the Bedford Public Schools.”

Conrad noted that a year ago the budget process was exceptional: he presented three budget options, distinguished by the degree of accommodating the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kirrane called the budget “a living document — it lives all year long. The mindset is the kids get what they need.” She spent more than an hour explaining 45 pages of line items, noting, “We show it very granularly here.”

The gross increase in spending is $1,527,051, with overall salaries increasing by 3.8 percent. The number of full-time equivalent employees was listed at 460.4.

“We tried really hard to keep supplies and those types of expenditures as close to level as possible,” Kirrane told the committee.

Mike Rosenberg can be reached at mike@thebedfordcitizen.org, or 781-983-1763

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