December 24, 2009
 
Bedford school board cuts $1M
Results in numerous reductions in  staff positions

By GREG KWASNIK

BEDFORD
- On Tuesday evening, the Bedford School Board approved more than $1 million in cuts from next year's budget, a move that will eliminate one teacher and several staff positions across the district.

The cuts include one Wellness teacher at Bedford High School; two library assistants; two speech therapy assistants; one SEED enrichment paraprofessional; one custodian and several lunch and recess paraprofessionals.

The board also voted to cut more than $268,000 from the school operating budget, $218,000 of which would be covered with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Other reductions included $23,354 from the summer elementary reading clinic, eliminating grades four and five from the program, and $26,000 from athletic and co-curricular activity operating budgets.

Superintendent of Schools Tim Mayes said the cuts are necessary given a projected 18 percent increase in health insurance premiums and a $78,000 decrease in state and local aid over the coming year.

Mayes said that without the cuts, the school district's preliminary 2010-11 budget would increase the town's tax rate by 75 cents for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

One Bedford resident urged the board to forego its high educational expectations and make cuts for the town's taxpayers.

"The problem with those expectations is they're probably way too high to begin with. If you're locked in with those expectations, it makes your job very difficult," said Jim Scanlon. "I'm not saying any of these are right, but those are the hard decisions that I don't hear anybody making."

The School Board debated a total of twenty proposed cuts totaling $1.14 million.  By the end of the night, the board had voted to approve $802,000 of the cuts.

The budget items that were salvaged included:

  • One new teaching position at Lurgio Middle School

  • One existing behavior specialist

  • One existing position supporting Bedford High School's Real World Learning program

  • One existing Personal Finance teacher at Bedford High School

  • One existing library assistant

To cover the cost of the retained positions, the School Board voted to make several cuts elsewhere in the budget.  The cuts included a deccrease in 2010-11 non-union pay raises from 2.5 percent to 1 percent; and a $250,000 reduction in funds budgeted for health insurance.

The board will revisit the health insurance cut following a revised insurance premium estimate this spring.

The board also discussed raising fees as a possible source of revenue.  Options proposed by Mayes include charging $100 per student for high school transportation, increasing student parking permit fees from $25 to $100 a year, and instituting a pay-to-play fee system for middle school and high school athletes.


 




 

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