ByJames P Sunderland President Bedford Education Association |
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.
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.
It has been another very busy week! The entire district leadership team, each building reopening task force, the district reopening task force, and town officials have all been working cooperatively to answer the Sixty Four Thousand Dollar Question (The $64,000 Question) how do we reopen [Bedford’s] schools in the fall in a way that accounts for the academic, social-emotional, health and safety needs of our students, parents, faculty, and staff and all of our families.
Our collaborative decision-making process has been guided by our core values and our commitment to the health and safety of our students, teachers, faculty, and staff
Representative Ken Gordon (D-Bedford) and Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) announced today that an agreement between the Legislature and the Governor will ensure increases to local aid and Chapter 70 education funding in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. The agreement will allow cities and towns to avoid significant budget cuts despite the uncertain conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Agreement Includes Education Funding Increase for Bedford
As businesses around the state continue to reopen, parents face the challenge of finding childcare. Governor Baker’s executive order closed all but essential child care programs as of March 22, 2020. Childcare agencies were able to open in late June but face strict regulations as they reopen.
Thank you to everyone who attended our webinars on Tuesday and Thursday evening. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to hear from you and to understand your thoughts about reopening. For those who were not able to attend, we will make them available on the website soon. For those who did not get your question answered, we are working to create a FAQ document that we will also post.
On a steamy Sunday morning in July, the faculty, parents, and support staff of the school and town under Galante’s leadership delivered in full. Under a Buccaneer-blue sky and in the midst of temperatures soaring to near-100 degrees the Class of 2020 picked up their diplomas and brought their last year of secondary school to an end. Among other things, it was the first time the class had been together since their abrupt departure on March 11.
In many ways, the scene was familiar: kids in caps and gowns, proud parents taking photos, a stage set up with microphones and speaker platforms. In other ways, startlingly different: “Pomp and Circumstance” but no procession; diplomas awarded but no congratulatory handshakes or hugs; chairs carefully spaced six feet apart and admonishments to “please not congregate.” Umbrellas – acting as parasols – were distributed to each family so that by the time the ceremony began Sabourin Field was a sea of the blue and white school colors.
This week’s TBC Snap Poll ‘What’s Bedford Thinking’ seeks a binary response to the question, Do you think the Bedford Schools should open in the fall of 2020 with in-person instruction? the poll will be ‘live’ until 5 pm on Friday, July 24.
I am looking forward to seeing you at the Town Meeting tomorrow morning. Please note that as I write this at 4:30 on Friday afternoon, the meeting is scheduled for Saturday, July 11, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. on Sabourin Field at BHS.
On behalf of the Bedford School Committee, I am pleased to present the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) School Department Budget. This budget totals $42,031,459, which is a 0.4% increase over the current adjusted FY20 operating budget of $41,844,365. The School Committee also received Finance Committee approval for a $450,000 reserve fund transfer to cover extraordinarily large increases in our special education out of district expenses. This budget reflects reductions made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bedford’s new superintendent of schools begins his second week on the job immersed in the pandemic-induced challenges of trying to plan for the resumption of classes in two months.
“We are working really hard on how we are going to re-enter school. That’s the focus for the summer,” said Philip Conrad. “Together we are going into uncharted territory, and hopefully we will be flexible and safe and smart.”
Conrad emphasized that he and his team are staying on top of requirements issued by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, including options for in-person, remote, and hybrid school experiences, “to keep everybody safe and healthy.”
The transition in the central office of the Bedford Public Schools is unusual to begin with, as the last new superintendent from outside the district was Joseph Buckley in 1981. Conrad, most recently principal of Andover High School, was selected by the School Committee in March to succeed the retiring Superintendent Jon Sills.
Now Conrad’s arrival is complicated by the exigencies of the coronavirus, but there is a silver lining: Sills is remaining on staff through the summer in the position of associate superintendent.
“Jon and I have a lot of interactions, pretty much on a daily basis, through a lot of different media – in person, on the phone, on Zoom,” Conrad said. “Jon’s presence is an incredible luxury for us because of his institutional knowledge. It is a wonderful way to transition from his leadership to my leadership.”
Conrad has met with, or scheduled conversations with, members of the central office leadership team, building principals and the president of the teachers’ union. Together with his predecessor he will connect with elected and appointed municipal officials. “It has been great to meet people – the welcome has been really wonderful.”
“I really want to get to everybody I can,” Conrad said, and whenever possible in person. Later in the summer, he added, “I hope we can figure out a way to meet with students and parents, outside or virtually.”
The Zoom platform, he observed, “is a great tool, and it has transformed the way we meet with people, the way we learn, maintain relationships, and the way to be able to continue to operate, whether school or businesses.”
For nearly 100 years, the Massachusetts Educational Theatre Guild (METG) has supported drama and musical theatre in schools across the Commonwealth. As Executive Director Dennis Canty said that 2020 was about to be a banner year, until Covid-19 struck.
Spring musicals were especially hard hit, some closing just hours before their opening performances, but since ‘the show must go on’ METG has arranged video celebrations in lieu of their annual in-person award presentations. Thanks to Katrina Faulstich at Bedford High School and Amy Budka at the John Glenn Middle School, here are METG’s 2020 MARQUEE STRONG videos.
At their June 30 meeting, the School Committee amended the 2020-2021 School Calendar, conducted an evaluation of Superintendent Jon Sills, and heard an update on school reopening. The Committee also reorganized to name Dan Brosgol as Chairperson, Sarah Scoville as Vice Chairperson, and Brad Morrison as Secretary of the Board.
There are a lot of questions looming about how the Bedford school scene will look 12 weeks from now. Will the classrooms be full? How about the buses and athletic fields? Marching band? Choruses? Field trips?
The landscape is uncertain – except for one significant change: Cathy Young, school crossing guard since 1986, has decided to retire.
We at the Bedford Education Foundation (BEF) hope that this message finds you and yours well at this challenging time for our community and our country as a whole. Now, for some good news…
The BEF Grant Committee has voted to award the Bedford Public Schools a $15,000 grant for two site licenses, one each for Davis and Lane Schools, for the Lexia Core5 Reading (Lexia) program. Lexia is an online tool that students in grades K-5 will use to build their reading skills. The program supports educators in providing differentiated literacy instruction for students of all abilities from grades Pre-K to 5.
ByTeri Morrow, President and Publisher, The Bedford Citizen |
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.
ByJon Sills, Superintendent of the Bedford Schools |
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
At the June 5 School Committee meeting, Superintendent Jon Sills, joined by Business Director Julie Kirrane, outlined budget reductions that the district will likely have to face in the FY21 School Budget due to a revenue shortfall at the state level.
On what should have been the last home game for the seniors on the Bedford Bucs Baseball Team, the evening of May 27, 2020, the team’s 8 members of the Class of 2020 gathered on A field to celebrate Senior Night, the capstone of their high school baseball careers.
It was the season that wasn’t when the pandemic halted all practices and every game.
Akil Mondesir, Bedford’s Metco Director, in collaboration with the other Metco programs that participate in the L&A2 Tenacity Challenge, announced that future Challenges will be known as the Jon Sills L&A2 Tenacity Challenge.
On a hot, sunny afternoon more reminiscent of July than late May, Bedford High School (BHS) seniors yesterday drove by the main entrance of the building they left forever on March 11 to pick up their caps and gowns. Supported by an energetic faculty and administrative staff, a plan was developed to turn the normally routine dropping off of books and school equipment and picking up of graduation garb into a fun event that would inject a note of celebration into the disappointment that has pervaded this year’s many canceled activities.
At their May 26 meeting, the School Committee was briefed on a more comprehensive view of the FY21 school budget and heard Superintendent Jon Sills’ report on hopes for an outdoor Bedford High graduation ceremony and return to school in the fall.
In anticipation of beginning its 61st school year serving the greater Bedford community, St. Paul’s Weekday Nursery School is pleased to welcome Pauline Leone to serve as the next Director of the school. She succeeds current Director, Sharon Healey, who will step down at the end of this school year after four years of service.
Mrs. Leone’s energy and passion for young children and their education has been developed over a 20-year career as a teacher in early childhood education in eastern Massachusetts. For the past four and a half years, she was Lead Teacher in the pre-school program at St. Mary’s School in Winchester, where she supervised a team of teachers in addition to being hands-on with her students in the classroom. She has earned glowing recommendations from her program’s parents and co-workers. Since her time at St. Mary’s, her classroom has been voted the #1 pre-school program both in Winchester and in the wider region by the local community.
The L&A2 Tenacity Challenge, is an annual academic scholarship competition for Latino and African-American high school students from urban and suburban districts across Massachusetts.
In the last nine years, Bedford has hosted the event at the High School. For the first time, however, undeterred by the unexpected pandemic and its resulting limitations, Bedford High School will host the event virtually.
On Saturday, May 30th, 14 teams from participating schools will compete, in three categories – History Argument, Literature Analysis, and Math & Science Quiz Bowl – for an opportunity to win a scholarship. Each student member of the first-place team will receive $1,000. $500, $300, and $150 will be awarded to each student member of the second, third, and fourth place teams, respectively.