Wednesday, March 22, 2023


Focus Now on Finding New Superintendent

By Jarret Liotta

With Board of Education (BOE) approval tonight of a separation agreement for Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer, attention turned to finding a permanent replacement. Image
Anthony Buono at tonight’s meeting where he was named acting superintendent. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for

Anthony Buono, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, was unanimously named acting superintendent indefinitely. He will serve until such time as a permanent or interim superintendent can be found.

“Given the timing, I anticipate that we will probably look for an interim superintendent next year while the search for a superintendent is underway,” BOE Chairman Mark Mathias said in advance of tonight’s meeting.

“We do have some names of people that have been recommended to us for an interim,” he said, but those will not be made public.

“When we have a candidate that we have vetted, we will present that individual before appointing them to interim superintendent,” he said.

“I’m honored to accept the position until the board is able to find a suitable replacement,” said Buono, who recently said he was not interested in taking the position permanently.

Also tonight, the BOE unanimously approved a $20,000 appropriation in order to get architectural plans created for renovation work at Bedford Middle School (BMS).

Estimated at between $200,000-$275,000, the work will involve creating vertical space in the large library-media center at BMS, resulting in four new offices and two special education resource rooms, according to Adam Rosen, principal.

Philip Cerrone, the Fairfield architect handling the project, said the tight timeline required that money be approved tonight in order to have the construction work begin on June 17 and be completed in time for the 2019-20 school year.

“We have to have the bids in approximately May 20,” he said, which will leave a very short window to approved costs. Image
Philip Cerrone, Fairfield architect, presents plans to the BOE about modifications for additional room to the library media center at Bedford Middle School, which he estimates will cost between $200,000 and $275,000. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for

“That’s predicated on starting the drawings literally today,” he said.

“Clearly this is a capital project,” said member Vik Muktavaram, who along with other BOE members was not clear on the best way to find the money immediately.

Given the tight schedule, the BOE initially intended to pull the money from its Cafeteria Fund, but learned from Elio Longo, chief financial officer, that it would not be able to put that money back, even if the funding bodies gave their approval to fund it.

“They cannot backfill the Cafeteria Fund,” he said.

Longo noted, however, that there was “a line of credit for $1 million” that the Board of Finance (BOF) and Representative Town Meeting (RTM) had approved for the portable classrooms at BMS.

“It’s projected we will probably be around $800,000 on that project,” said Cerrone, whose company is handling that installation as well.

“I’m very hopeful that our funding bodies would be supportive of this,” said BOE member Candice Savin.

Meg Himes, BMS PTA co-president, spoke in favor of the expenditure, but added that there was a list of items in need of repair at the school.

“There’s a lot of broken things in the science labs … They’re just falling apart,” she said.

She also made a pitch for installing new security cameras inside the building, repairing bi-fold walls that divide pods, repainting hallways, removing old CRT television sets from the classrooms, installing netting on the catwalks above the stage, and making repairs to the seating at the back of the auditorium.

“These repairs and this maintenance has been deferred too long,” she said.

Though it took no official action, the BOE also held some discussion regarding the school calendar for the 2020-21 year.

While the current draft has school starting Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, several members said it might be wiser to delay opening until Tuesday, Sept. 1, giving more opportunities for construction projects to be concluded before students start.

“Not everybody will be happy going later into June,” Muktavaram said, “but having the buildings ready, I think, will be better.”

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