Last Tuesday, March 8th, Bedford held their town election, which included choosing a new school board member to fill Mr. Schneller’s spot if he were not re-elected. The results of the election were released later that evening, and Andrea Campbell is now the newest member of the Bedford School Board.
Andrea Campbell is a retired Bedford teacher who described that one of her main reasons for running was her concern about the number of book challenges this year. Mr. Schneller had previously been one member to propose that books be drawn off the shelves as soon as they were challenged in order to prevent an unwanted book from sitting on the shelves for the weeks that deliberation would take. Although this was not passed, the proposal gives a glimpse into their differing opinions on the matter. Book challenges have significantly increased this year and her opinion on the importance of intellectual freedom may impact, or prevent a change in, school board decisions on the issue.
Ms. Campbell received nearly 57% of votes, more than Mr. Schneller and Mr. Monroe combined. Her win may represent how Bedford’s residents desire to have the school board focus less on political issues, like the push for parental rights from Mr. Monroe’s campaign, and more on preserving the well-being of the schools with a highly qualified, previous educator on the board.
Moving forward, Ms. Campbell described her approach as one including “empathy and enthusiasm.” She also cites the schools as the primary reason that residents and businesses are attracted to Bedford. In order to continue this high-quality education, she says that we need to prioritize “retaining and attracting highly qualified educators and administrators.” Her experience as a teacher at Memorial Elementary School will bring an essential perspective on student and teacher needs to the school board. She is currently the only member of the school board with a teaching past.
In terms of the other positions that were up for election, Bill Klein won re-election as the School Monitor for the School Board, Maggie Wachs won School District clerk, and Tina Kozak became the School District Treasurer. Articles II, III, IV, V, and VI were all passed–which includes the HVAC Improvements Bond, Sprinklers and Alarms Bond, professional staff salary and benefits negotiation, and the new budget.
The Bedford Taxpayers Association, an influential conservative group in Bedford, supported Article IV–the negotiation between BSD and Bedford Education Association on salaries and benefits–which most likely aided the article passing. Like Ms. Campbell says, this agreement will help keep Bedford’s excellent teachers working for the BSD while also attracting other highly qualified educators.
Articles II and III to improve the HVAC systems in all three elementary schools and McKelvie, and to implement new sprinklers and alarms in the elementary schools, will help improve the safety of the schools as well as update the schools that are much older than Lurgio and BHS.
Although the new school board budget did pass–an increase of $990,346 to now total $81,887,004–the vote was relatively close. 2,885 residents voted to approve the new, increased budget while 2,004 residents voted against the new budget. This means that 40% of Bedford voters decided against the new budget. In the case that this budget had not been passed, the default budget would have been enacted.
According to the Town Clerk, Bedford had the highest voter turnout in a local election since 2012, which was significantly higher than every other year since 2014, and even doubling the voter turnout in last year’s local election. 5,133 residents of the 15,801 registered voters at the beginning of election day voted at the polls (34.5%), which does not include over 100 residents who registered at the polls.