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Bedford School District Mobilizes For Feedback

BEDFORD, N.Y. — Before the Bedford Central School District holds a public vote in March on decisions about bonds for their capital plans, the administration and Board of Education said they want to make sure to get maximum feedback from the community.

In an effort to gather input on plans for the four-year construction project in an organized, exhaustive way, the administration has created the Community Investment Program (CIP). The group is composed of the Board of Education and each of the district’s citizen advisory committees, including two created solely for the capital planning process.

Plans include completely renovating West Patent Elementary School, improving the science labs and cafeteria at Fox Lane Middle School, improving Fox Lane High School’s stadium, and various other infrastructure repairs throughout the district.

The complexity of the capital plan implementation process makes it imperative that residents have the full story when it comes to decisions that will affect not only students, but the property taxes of those who live within the entire 60-square-mile school district.

At the CIP’s first meeting Tuesday, which preceded the night’s Board of Education meeting, members were given a brief overview of work done, as well as a projected timeline and a report on district demographics.

Superintendent Jere Hochman said the CIP will serve the role of “coordinating public engagement and public opinion” and fostering communication, which "we will work vigorously to make sure [that] is two-way communication."

Hochman said he wants to make sure every constituency within the district gets routine updates on the plan’s progress before the March bond vote. The CIP will “make sure they’re constantly feeding questions to us with their particular lens,” he said.

Currently, messages are sent via newsletter, podcast, the district website and in meetings, but the committee has been given the task of finding new, creative ways to maximize community input.

Hochman said the committee will begin telephone interview surveys at the end of next week - something the district has done before. More than 50 percent of respondents will intentionally be chosen because they do not have children in the schools, Hochman said, adding that the survey results will be published online and disseminated thoroughly.

The Board of Education will hold two or three public engagement sessions in Town Hall format over the next few months, Hochman said, and the CIP will present its analysis of survey data to the board in November.

The administration will vote to approve the bond resolution in January, and increased communication will lead up to the public vote in March. If approved, the plans will be sent to the state Education Department’s building-planning department for final approval.

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