School Committee Votes to Begin the Year with Hybrid Model

In an epic School Committee meeting that began on Wednesday evening and ended in the very earliest hours of Thursday, members voted unanimously to support the following motion:

Moved that the Bedford School Committee approve the fully in-person, hybrid and fully remote learning plans as presented, and that the district begins the 2020-2021 school year using the hybrid model.

Furthermore, should the hybrid or fully in-person model be implemented, families will have the option to go all remote if they so choose, and that between now and the opening of schools, the Reopening Task Forces and the Bedford Educator Association will continue to work on the operational details for each model.  

The Citizen’s coverage is being compiled and will post as soon as it’s ready.

Eleazer Davis Farm for Sale ~ “It’s time for a life change”

The equestrian facilities and meadows at 253 Davis Road are for sale.

“It’s time for a life change,” said the owner, Lisa Samolyenko. “But I am doing everything I can to get someone interested to keep it a horse farm. I just can’t hold out forever.” She said she hopes “something unfolds by the end of the fall.”

The property, which Samolyenko operates as Eleazer Davis Farm, is on the town’s land acquisition list. However, the acquisition fund is short of the $2.9 million asking price for the land, with town meeting the most direct source of an allocation. The Select Board was scheduled to discuss land acquisition in general during an executive session late Monday afternoon.

BREAKING NEWS – School Committee Meeting Ended Early Wednesday morning

Tonight’s Bedford School Committee maxed out with 300 attendees.

If you don’t intend to speak, please go to Bedford TV to watch the live stream.

Tonight’s Bedford School Committee maxed out and was changed to a webinar

If you don’t intend to speak, please go to Bedford TV to watch the live stream.

Please open this article and click the link below to join the webinar: Passcode: 315052

Superintendent’s Update on Reopening the Bedford Schools ~ August 5, 2020

I wanted to let you know that as we await a school committee decision on which model (all in-person, hybrid, or all remote) we have received more information on the state-sponsored remote and Learning Management Systems (LMS) options.  Please keep in mind that if the school committee decides on the all remote model this information is moot as we will all be remote together. Here is the information from the state.  DESE has updated its plans to include five potential remote learning options.  Each is briefly described below.

The first option from DESE would be for us to operate a fully district-designed and district-run remote program.  To date we have not thought this possible for us because of our size.  Our concern is whether or not we have the capacity to teach an all in-person or hybrid model and a remote model simultaneously.  However, as we gather information from our families and we combine it with the commitment of our teachers to teach all of our Bedford students regardless of the model. We are encouraged this may be possible.  I know that we would all prefer all of our Bedford students to be taught our Bedford curriculum by our highly qualified, experienced, and wonderful Bedford teachers.

The second option available from DESE is to adopt and implement a high-quality curriculum that easily spans in-person and remote settings. In this approach DESE would purchase a curriculum through the United States Department of Education.  That curriculum would be taught to our students by our teachers but would not be the content currently offered in the Bedford Public Schools.

The third option would be a combination of pre-existing instructional materials with online virtual teaching materials.  This material could be used as primary material for remote learners and could supplement hybrid or in-person instruction.  Again, this plan would rely on Bedford teachers to plan and deliver the remote instruction.

The fourth option is new information, it would allow the Bedford Public Schools to purchase courses through Commonwealth Virtual Schools (CMVS) of which there are two. These courses would be stand-alone programs. There would be a per course cost to the school district of around $350 to $375 dollars per course.

The final option would be for us as a school district to purchase full course content from an Learning Management System (yet unnamed).  This would be a stand-alone program designed for a large or small group of students and would need to be staffed by Bedford teachers.  The cost for the district could range from $200 to $400 dollars for a full suite of courses.

Please see On the Desktop July 24, 2020 Attachment: Fall Remote Learning Guidance  for the information from DESE.  While the title is labeled for 7/24, the information was expanded on 8/4.

Op Ed: Bedford Education Association Faculty Survey Results

The Bedford Education Association (BEA) has always had a collaborative relationship with school administration and has held our students’ educations at the forefront of our thinking.

In that spirit, the BEA wants to be transparent with the data we have collected from our members and we hope this will help to inform collaborative decisions that are in the best interest of the Bedford educational community.

Editor’s Note: Please click this link to read the detailed survey results, graphics, charts, and tables in the BEA’s survey results.

Superintendent’s Update on Reopening the Bedford Schools ~ August 3, 2020

Hello Bedford School Community,

As I mentioned in my Friday letter I am letting you know that we have placed our Bedford Public Schools Draft Reopening Plan Fall 2020 on our website.

Click this link to read the Draft Reopening Plan for Fall 2020

This draft is nearly 50 pages long and answers many questions about the All Remote, the Hybrid, and the All In-Person models we have developed for the fall.  It also includes information about the Learning Management System (LMS) that will be offered by the state of Massachusetts, although we are still awaiting more clarity on this option.  Please note that this document is a draft and we will continue to add to it as new information becomes available. I hope that you will have a chance to review the document.

Remembering Kevin Sullivan

In the words of Past District Governor Bob Cassidy, this has been a difficult time for the Rotary Club of Bedford, as it has suffered a terrible loss. “How do you say goodbye to an old friend who has been a member of Rotary for 35 years?

“Past President, Group Study Exchange Team Leader, Unsung Hero of Rotary District7910, and whether it was RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards), ESSEX (Eastern States Student Exchange), or Gift of Life. When the Gift of Life New England corporation was started back in 1999, Kevin and Ellen were on the original Board of Directors.

“If it involved children and students, especially those from other countries, Kevin Sullivan was whole-heartedly involved,” wrote Cassidy, “Kevin and his dear wife Ellen, have hosted numerous students and children from all over the world.”

“If it involved children and students, especially those from other countries, Kevin Sullivan was whole-heartedly involved,” wrote Cassidy, “Kevin and his dear wife Ellen, have hosted numerous students and children from all over the world.”

Click to read more

POMS Pop-Up Music: Treat Your Neighborhood to a Mini-Concert!

Are you missing live music this summer? Do you lament the canceled school musicals and concerts? Now you can relax while taking in the sweet sounds of student musicians—right on your own doorstep!—through a POMS Pop-Up Music event.

Bedford Patrons of Music Students (POMS) is offering brief (10–15 minute) concerts by current Bedford music students as a fundraiser, to be given at a time and place of the donor’s choosing. POMS has lined up a handful of BHS student musicians, from a trumpeter to a rock band, who are volunteering their time and talents in a safe, socially distant way throughout the month of August.

Op:Ed ~ A Message from Supt. Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D. on Reopening Shawsheen Valley Technical High School

I am writing to provide you with an update to our planning efforts for the reopening of Shawsheen this fall.  I have been directed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to hold off making any formal and final announcement of our plans for reopening until at least Monday, August 10th, but I thought it was important to provide you with some information that might help you as you plan for the return to school.

All school districts in Massachusetts have been instructed to prepare 3 plans for reopening:

Reopen with all students physically attending school while observing required social distancing (Full Open);
A hybrid model where some students physically attend school (observing required social distancing) and the remainder attend school remotely (Hybrid Open); and
A 100% remote learning model with stricter expectations for student performance, participation, and graded work (Remote Open).

As an educator, I see the Remote Open as the least desirable option both from a curriculum/instruction and a social/emotional lens.  However, this decision must be, and will be, made based on student and staff safety, which has been informing all of the guidelines issued by DESE since mid-June.  The directive from DESE is clear: “our goal is the safe return of as many students as possible to in-person school settings, to maximize learning and address our students’ holistic needs.”  Accordingly, we are focusing our efforts on returning “as many students as possible to in-person school settings” and are viewing the 100% remote learning model as an option only if there are significant changes in the progress of the virus here in Massachusetts.

An Appreciation: Jeff Hoyland

Several Bedford High School seniors and their family members took a detour on the way home from Sunday morning’s outdoor graduation to personally salute Jeff Hoyland, whose declining health precluded his covering the event with his camera – a ubiquitous feature on the students’ landscape for several years.

And there he was at his front door, acknowledging his admirers with a wave and a flicker of the outside light.

A few hours later, he succumbed to an 11-year battle with cancer.

Hoyland, who during his illness reinvented himself into an authentic local folk hero, was 59. He is survived by his wife Randi, children Alec and Sienna, his parents, and six brothers and sisters.

His death engendered a massive outpouring of sadness, admiration and gratitude, primarily on social media, which was Hoyland’s constant communication vehicle.

Click here to read more

Photographing Comet NEOWISE at Halibut Point

Mark David Bailey is known around Bedford as a dad, a talented photographer, and a man with the patience and skill to balance standing stones.

Earlier this week, Bailey went to Rockport with his daughters Lila and Norah to see Comet NEOWISE, balance a rock or two, and take some pictures.

The result?

The compelling image at the head of this story is daughter Lila’s. It was the best shot of the night, showing the 40-pound rock her dad balanced in the foreground, the sea, lights on the horizon, a scattering of stars, and Comet NEOWISE in good focus.

Click to see Lila’s full-size image

Community Comments Enliven FY21 Capital Budget Discussion at Annual Town Meeting 2020

Town meeting voters Saturday approved $5.75 million in capital projects for Fiscal Year 2021, despite a challenge that financial uncertainty mandated a delay.

A variety of purchases and projects, ranging from school furnishings and painting to fire safety equipment and a replacement sewer pumping station, was approved following lively discussion of whether capital purchases should be deferred.

Walter St. Onge, former selectman and Finance Committee member, opened a discussion of the capital article with a prepared statement. “We are in unprecedented times. Every person and every business has been hurt by the pandemic, some in profound and sad ways,” he said.

Click to read the rest of the story

Hats Off To Karen Santos ~ Faculty Advisor for the 2020 BHS Yearbook that Captured a Very Unusual Year

When life as we knew it ended back in March, Karen Santos was just starting the busiest time of her school year as faculty advisor for the Bedford High School yearbook, The Buccaneer.  Suddenly, the school was closed, and shortly afterward she received word from Susan Happel, agent and colleague, representing the Herff-Jones Printing Company which publishes the BHS yearbook, that production had been stopped.  Some advisors might have thrown in the towel in the face of all that uncertainty and simply said “no book this year.”  Santos had no such thoughts.

Annual Town Meeting 2020 – Watch Bedford TV’s Live Stream Recording

According to Interim Town Clerk Rosemary Harvell, Bedford voters turned out in force for Annual Town Meeting 2020 at Sabourin Field on Saturday morning, July 11.

Special Town Meeting drew 212 eligible residents, and Bedford’s Annual Town Meeting comprised 209 voters. New residents who moved to Bedford after registration closed for Annual Town meeting early this year were eligible to vote in the Special Town Meeting, but not in Annual Town Meeting. New voters used yellow voting cards, and long-time residents voted using red fans emblazoned with the Town Seal.

Bedford-TV was on the field, live-streaming the proceedings for voters unable to attend the meeting in person. B-TV’s Executive Director Katie Duval reported that more than 60 viewers tuned in at one time during the 2-hour meeting, and in all the un-edited video was seen more than 400 times. Duval was joined by Steve Madore, a freelance videographer from Scituate, and Bob Dutton, a member of the B-TV  board who captured the Bedford Minuteman Company marching onto the field.

An edited version of the meeting is available by clicking the video below

Annual Town Meeting on Sabourin Field Today

Bedford voters gathered on Sabourin Field on Saturday morning to celebrate one of the great rituals of democracy, Open Town Meeting. Looking out over the socially-distanced crowd of 100+ voters, visitors, and Town staff, Moderator Cathy Cordes opened the meeting and exclaimed, “THIS is what democracy looks like!”

Town Manager Sarah Stanton said, “Thanks to everyone [for] a true collaborative effort. We accomplished what we all wanted, for people to be safe, AND to be part of our important democratic process.”

Moderator Cordes added that she was “humbled by the turnout and the active participation of voters in the process of democracy. It is a proud moment for Bedford, and one for the history books!”

Both Stanton and Cordes credit town staff. “They’re all professionals who love  Bedford and made the meeting seem effortless,” said Cordes.  Members of every town department were on hand, from first responders ready for any emergency, through DPW crews, to administrative professionals helping to direct voters to their seats.

Bedford won the weather sweepstakes when Tropical Storm Fay took a westward tack, completely missing the town, leaving behind a strong breeze and puffy clouds. The temperature was in the high eighties, but the breeze and occasional shade when the sun hid behind the clouds made the morning tolerable.

The full warrant for the original meeting scheduled for March was pared to the bone with only essential votes remaining. One retained ‘essential’ was the Bedford Minuteman Company posting the colors as they do in opening Annual Town Meeting each year.

Bedford MA Today moderator Lee Yates noted the number of ‘firsts’ at today’s meeting. “Our first outdoor Town Meeting. Our first March Town Meeting in July. Our first TM with sunscreen, insect repellent, and spring water handed out to each voter. And the first TM where Rich Daugherty really did need a microphone!” Daugherty is known for his strong voice, carrying throughout the high school auditorium where town meetings are commonly held.

Bedford’s State Representative Ken Gordon added, “What a great turnout. At least 100, likely more. Respectful discussions ..  ..  .. Great job by the town to supply masks, waters, bug screen, sunscreen, and even a souvenir fan.” (Editor’s note: the souvenir fans did double duty, also serving as easily seen voting cards as the meeting progressed.) “As others found reasons to postpone their gatherings, Bedford toughed it out and got its business done,” Rep. Gordon continued.

There will be several articles about the decisions that were made during the meeting, and they will appear in The Bedford Citizen early next week. But in the meanwhile, please enjoy these images of the day.

A selection of images from Annual Town Meeting on Sabourin Field this morning.

Annual Town Meeting 2020 ~ Start Delayed One Hour, Until 10 am

According to an announcement on the Town of Bedford’s website on Friday morning,

Tomorrow’s Town Meeting to Begin at 10:00 AM

Due to predicted overnight and morning rain, Bedford Town Meeting will be delayed one hour. Town Meeting will now begin tomorrow, Saturday, July 11th, at 10:00 AM, with registration opening at 9:00 AM.

Everything You’ll Need to Know for Annual Town Meeting on Saturday, July 11

UPDATE ~ as of Friday, July 10: ATM is delayed by one hour, beginning now at 10 am

Watch this Public Service Announcement prepared by Haley and Taevy

Read about the importance of Annual Town Meeting – participatory democracy in action!

Bedford TV plans to Live Stream the proceedings

Click to continue reading!