EducationThe Examiner

Bedford Schools in Jeopardy of Losing 27 Staff Members in $155.8M Budget

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Facing the loss of nearly $1.6 million in state Foundation Aid and diminishing enrollment, the Bedford School District could see staffing reduced by more than 27 full-time equivalent positions next year.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Glass unveiled his proposed $155.8 million budget for 2024-25 that hikes spending by more than $3.2 million, or 2.15 percent, and carries a 2.95 percent levy increase, or an additional $4,053,380, the maximum allowable figure to comply with the tax cap.

As proposed, there would be a reduction of 19.6 full-time equivalent teaching positions, with 10.6 of those lost through attrition along with nine layoffs, Glass said. Additionally, there would be seven teacher aides that stand to lose their job next year as well as a retirement of a high school assistant principal position that won’t be filled.

The district currently plans to save money by shifting away from a full-time elementary school coordinator at each of the five primary-grade buildings and go with one coordinator that will be used by all of the schools. It’s a move that drew criticism from several members of the school community.

“I will be very candid with you, I don’t think there are many or any areas in this budget where our principals felt there would not be an impact,” Glass told the Board of Education at last Wednesday’s during his presentation.

Last Thursday, Glass said it was unclear how many of the cuts are a result of the district losing a possible $1,591,000 in Foundation Aid next year. Some of the staff reductions are being done to “right-size” the district’s faculty to account for the steady decline in enrollment over the past decade. District enrollment in 2015-16 was 4,378 students and has declined every year since then to its current 3,534 students. Meanwhile, district staffing has increased from 778 to its current 813 in that time.

The district will add a literacy coach next year to help it improve its proficiency scores.

Hanging over the district is the uncertainty of whether the state will reinstate the Foundation Aid funding. Local state legislators have joined their colleagues throughout the state in both parties vowing to restore the aid.

Districts across the state are facing a combined $419 million reduction, including about $19.6 million in Westchester school systems alone. Bedford would feel the steepest Foundation Aid cut in terms of percentage – 30.5 percent – of any K-12 district in Westchester and Putnam counties.

To make up for that loss in aid, Bedford would have to use $1,746,665 in undesignated fund balance for next year, said Assistant Superintendent for Business Tom Cole. The district had embarked on a three-year plan to reduce its reliance on reserves to balance its budget from about $3 million in the current year’s budget. However, the loss in aid would put a dent in the plan.

Cole said that if the nearly $1.6 million is reinstated, the district would be two years ahead of schedule.

“That’s our sole issue at this point, is how do we plug that leak while we reduce from some substantial support in the budget from $3 million last year to $1.7 million this year,” he said.

Board President Robert Mazurek said the district has had no choice but to make tough decisions to achieve fiscal stability, and could have been three years away from having its reserves evaporate.

“We need to do this, or something like this, and look forward to where we can stabilize this going forward,” Mazurek said. “That’s the most important thing to me. I’ve been waiting for it for eight years now, if we can get to the point where we can have the class sizes and we can have the programs running and not break the bank.”

Several parents called on the district to find a way to refrain from cutting he elementary school coordinators. One of those parents, Lauren Sharon, co-president of the Pound Ridge Elementary School PTA, said the coordinators are too valuable to reduce those positions from one at each elementary school to one for all five schools.

“These are unique positions that have evolved over time based on specific growing needs at each individual school, offering support, once again, to principals, staff, teachers, parents and students, where they need it most, to function and thrive,” Sharon said.

The district is also looking to add a .5 community resource officer to bolster security. It would be less expensive than hiring another school resource officer.

For the full budget presentation, including the power point on the proposed budget, visit Hover the cursor over About BCSD and click on BCSD Budget Information.







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