School Committee Confirms Y2020-21 Budget Cuts

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.

Celebrating the Class of 2020 ~ The Citizen’s Special Tribute Edition

Today in the virtual pages of The Bedford Citizen we bring you our first-ever Special Tribute Edition dedicated to all of Bedford’s high school seniors. Whether you attended Bedford High School, Shawsheen Tech, or an independent high school we salute your achievements and your resilience in this very unusual year.

Click this link in the actual story to read The Bedford Citizen’s Tribute to the Class of 2020. After graduation The Citizen will offer this special edition in PDF format,
so it can be printed and saved alongside your yearbook and other mementos.

I know there was a lot surrounding graduation that didn’t happen this year…but we are struck by the creative and innovative ways that so much did happen…and may even happen yet. Virtual awards are not as much fun as the in-person events, but our kids got recognized. While photos of friends in caps and gowns are not as wonderful as photos together in caps and gowns, hundreds of pictures and videos are being shared through The Citizen. Yard signs dot our local landscape…and for the first time were hand-delivered by BHS principal Heather Galante and teacher Charlie Humphrey. Cap-and-gown pick-up was transformed into a mini-parade which made a socially distanced attempt to allow students and teachers to see one another one last time.

To the Class of 2020: We’ve brought all of this and more together into a single edition of The Bedford Citizen. This edition captures the ways in which parents, teachers, administrators, town officials and employees, and Bedford at-large came together in the Year of the Pandemic to ensure that your graduation would be recognized and remembered as the important milestone it is…Covid-19 be damned!

A huge thank-you and shout-out to the many hands that brought this special edition to life: Heather Galante; Andy Pigeon; Charlie Humprey; Patrick Morrissey; Jonathan Pierre; Keith Mangan; Karen Santos; the 2020 BHS Senior Parents Committee; Jeff Hoyland; Rep. Ken Gordon; and all those who generously shared their videos and photographs with us.

The Bedford Citizen’s Tribute to the Class of 2020 was coordinated by Ginni Spencer with help from Gene Kalb, Meredith McCulloch, Mike Rosenberg, Jordan Stewart, and Julie Turner.

A Message from Superintendent Jon Sills ~ Reductions to the FY21 School Budget

Editor’s Note: The following message regarding reductions to the FY21 budget, was sent by School Superintendent Jon Sills  to families on Sunday, June 7, 2020

As you may be aware, the school department is required to reduce the FY21 budget that we originally created with the support of the School Committee, and which received the support of the Finance Committee back in January, by $1,278,000.  This is due to over $2,000,000 in reduced state and local revenues.

While we are not reducing below our FY20 budget number, we are significantly reducing what we originally proposed for FY21.  The $1,278,000 net reductions change our FY21 budget from a 3.5% increase over FY20 plus a $450,000 extra fund for what were extraordinary out-of-district special education costs, to a .4% increase plus the extra special education funds.  In looking at where to make these changes, we could not simply eliminate the new positions we had asked for, as these are needed to meet our special education/IEP ethical and legal obligations and anticipated increases in emotional and mental health needs.

Click the following links in the actual document:

Read the FY21 Budget Chart – Bedford School Department 06072020

The School Committee will meet in remote session at noon on Wednesday, June 10; click this link for the agenda and instructions for joining the meeting

School Committee Amends BHS Grading Proposal In Response To Covid-19

Principal Heather Galante joined by Assistant Principals Thomas Casey and Daniel Hudder, as well as Director of Guidance Alicia Linsey, shared Bedford High’s proposal for Term 3 and 4 grading that helps mitigate the effects of Covid-19.

Galante stressed that this proposal was the only option that did not penalize students for the effects of Covid-19. The desire to not penalize students was a central focus of the school administration as they drafted this proposal.

Celebrating Bedford’s Teachers During National Teacher Appreciation Week

It would have been impossible to predict how National Teacher Appreciation Week 2020 could be more different than those in years past. Classroom rituals are all new on Zoom calls, everyone is at home and social distancing in place.

Bedford’s educators held an in-service about distance learning on Friday, March 13, and set about conjuring class plans and learning how to use Zoom. Now, more than two months in, online learning is in place from the earliest grades through AP classes at BHS.

Click this link after you open the actual story to watch Davis School’s teacher appreciation video

It is indeed the year to celebrate Bedford’s educators, and several people had thoughts to share:

School Committee to Meet Remotely on Thursday Evening, April 9

The Bedford School Committee will meet remotely at 7:30 pm on Thursday, April 9, 2020.

In addition to other business, the Committee will decide on a proposed change to the 2019-2020 School Calendar and whether to cancel April Vacation.

Online Learning to Begin for Bedford Public School Students

The Bedford Public Schools, closed by state order until at least May 4 to slow the spread of Covid-19, this week forays into a new universe: “required engagement with online learning.”

In a letter to student households Friday, School Superintendent Jon Sills wrote that the remote experience will be guided by a recent collaborative vision statement. This includes “providing meaningful work, promoting choice, flexibility, creativity, and engagement; nurturing connections with students; and “factoring in the anxiety and other conditions that the crisis is imposing on students, educators, and their families.”

Choosing Superintendent-Elect Philip Conrad

The superintendent-elect of the Bedford Public Schools began his career as an art teacher, has led two Essex County high schools and is a member of the state education department’s Kaleidoscope Collective cohort.

Wednesday afternoon the School Committee unanimously voted to offer the position to Andover High School Principal Philip Conrad, effective July 1. Later that afternoon Conrad accepted, and soon discussions will begin on a contract.

The appointment culminates a months-long process to succeed Superintendent Jon Sills, who is retiring.

School Committee to Interview Final Superintendent Candidates on Thursday at 7:30 pm and Friday at 1 pm ~ Livestream on Bedford TV

The Bedford School Committee will interview finalists for the position of Superintendent of Schools in two meetings. The first will take place tonight, Thursday, March 19, at 7:30 pm, and the second on Friday, March 20 at 1 pm.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions limiting public gatherings, the interviews will be live-streamed by Bedford Television on their YouTube channel,

A survey to assess community reaction is available; click to share your thoughts.

Moving Forward in the Search for a New Superintendent of the Bedford Schools

The search for a new superintendent of Bedford Public Schools is moving to its next phase.
The Search, Screening and Interview Committee is wrapping up its work.  The Committee has reviewed applications, interviewed more than a dozen well-qualified candidates, and will recommend finalists to the School Committee at its meeting on Tuesday, March 10.