All of the candidates said they were familiar with the deficit elimination plan the strapped school district was required to file with the state, and understood the board was obliged to follow it to bring the budget into balance by the end of the 2014-15 year.
The plan calls for more painful cuts, including closing a school building, eliminating high school transportation, and outsourcing the jobs of custodians and other employees. If the board veers from the planned cuts it must come up with equivalent cost savings elsewhere.
The school system has been suffering from declining enrollment and cuts in state support, which is at the same level it was in the 2005-06 school year.
Mrs. Ellsworth, 54, known as “Dee,” filed with the county clerk as “D. Ellsworth. She was band director at the junior high and taught fifth and sixth-grade band before retiring in 2011, after 20 years with the district. She is married to Mark Ellsworth, a Democratic candidate for township trustee. They have a son who is a freshman at Bedford Senior High School.
“In all the years I taught at Bedford, I have to say the emphasis has been taken away from what is best for students,” she said, adding that she believed the terms of the deficit-elimination plan could be met without closing another school, although she cited no alternatives.
Mr. Koch, 56, retired in June after a 25-year teaching career with the Bedford schools. He was band director for the high school, marching band, jazz band, concert band, sixth grade band, and taught elementary strings and music appreciation.
As a board member he would lobby the Legislature for better state support, he said. He said he opposes privatizing school jobs, because “the community would suffer and I don't believe it saves a lot of money, especially in the long run.” He and his wife, Bernal, who teaches at Jackman Road Elementary, have two children who went through the Bedford Schools
Mr. Weyher, 47, oversees the purchase of raw materials for Owens Corning's insulation products. He and his wife, Laurie, have two daughters in the district.
“I thought it was important to get involved because of the financial challenges it is facing,” he said.