BEDFORD — The day after voters failed to support the school district’s proposed operating budget, the chairman of the school board vowed to better communicate the needs of the district to voters.
Not only did Bedford residents reject the proposed $75 million operating budget, but they also rejected a proposed $3 million bond for energy-related improvements throughout the schools.
“I didn’t do a good enough job in explaining the benefits of investing in either the bond or the operating budget. I will work to do better,” Jay Nash, chairman of the school board, said in a statement.
The budget was rejected with 1,747 in support and 1,800 in opposition, and the energy bond was denied with 1,712 in support and 1,846 in opposition.
“It’s also evident that our friends and neighbors in Bedford are asking for some fiscal restraint. By taking a pass on the operating budget, the energy-savings bond and the town-side recreation bond, the message is pretty clear,” said Nash, referring to a failed $4 million bond to improve town fields and other parks and recreation facilities, which included a recommendation to explore the implementation of new user fees for the fields.
According to Nash, the school district’s operating budget has been on the edge of voter approval for a few years, but has managed to get support in the past.
“When we’re able to pass measures by 500 votes, we will know we’ve been effective at both hearing the electorate and providing good reasons for those investments,” he said.
Nash thanked voters for supporting a new teachers contract that will provide salary increases throughout the next two years, and also thanked everyone who took the time to hit the polls. Nash described the 20 percent turnout rate as “pretty dismal.”
The school board will now have to decide how to shave nearly $1.3 million off of its spending plan to get to the default budget of about $73.7 million.
A school board event has been planned for 6 p.m. Monday at the library for anyone interested in speaking with board members.