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More teachers considered for Bedford schools

BEDFORD — A proposal to add several new teachers is being considered as part of the school district’s recommended $74 million budget.

“Overall, the proposed budget is up just about 2.7 percent over the current budget,” said Paul Brock, school board member.

About half of that increase is a result of wage increases for teachers and support staff that was approved by voters last year at the polls, he said.

The school board’s proposed budget of $74,011,321 for fiscal year 2019 was outlined during a public hearing this week.

Included in the budget is a proposal to hire several new teachers at Bedford High School. One additional math teacher is being recommended, as well as an extra science teacher and a part-time computer science teacher.

“High school parents were concerned about several courses that were not offered in the 2017-2018 school year,” explained Jen DeAngelis, school board member. She said select courses such as Advanced Placements Stats, AP computer science, AP computer science electives, chemistry in the International Baccalaureate program and other courses were not easily accessible or not available at all.

“With the proposed additions, all of these demands will be better met,” said DeAngelis.

Funding is also being proposed to add another first-grade teacher at Riddle Brook Elementary School, according to school officials.

The budget also includes additional computer science programming for kindergarten through eighth-grade, additional robotics equipment for elementary and middle schools, nearly $78,000 for a new natural gas boiler at Memorial Elementary School and more.

About $1.25 million is being proposed for the school district’s Capital Expenditure Plan. That money, if approved, will be used for restroom renovations at Memorial and McKelvie Intermediate School, paving at Peter Woodbury School, floor coverings at the elementary schools and McKelvie, painting, vehicle replacement and a physical security assessment.

If the $74 million budget is adopted — an increase of nearly $2 million — the school portion of the tax rate will increase by about $2.03 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for a total school property tax, including state and local, of $15.54 compared to last year’s $13.51.

For the average home in Bedford assessed at $400,000, that would equate to a tax increase of $820, said Cindy Chagnon, school board member.

“I am concerned about the addition of teachers while our student population is not growing,” Charlie Fairman of Liberty Hill Road told the school board this week.

The total teacher-to-student ratio should not be changing over time, said Fairman.

Chagnon said several students signed up for higher level classes this year that they could not take, adding the district previously cut several teacher positions that are slowly being restored.

Superintendent Chip McGee stressed that the teaching positions will only be filled if the student demand is present.

Voters will also consider a proposed $93,000 energy efficiency study as a separate warrant article.

The school district’s deliberative session is set for Feb. 6, with voting taking place on March 13.

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