July 10, 2008

Project for two new schools moving ahead slowly, if at all

Since settling on two sites for two new schools months ago, there’s been little sign of any progress on the $120 million project.
“Things are stagnant right now,” said Cheryl Thibault, a Board of Finance member who serves on the Forestville School Building Committee.
Mayor Art Ward said that it takes time to negotiate the land purchases necessary for the plan to build two new kindergarten to eighth grade schools to move ahead.
“We’re in the initial, preliminary stages,” the mayor said. “We’re going through the process.”
Officials are eyeing the former Crowley dealership on Pine Street and a former sand pit operated by Scalia Construction off Barlow Street as potential sites for the 900-student schools.
The Board of Education had hoped to open one as soon as 2010, but it appears that even 2012 is looking optimistic at this point. Because of the massive redistricting involved in closing four existing schools and opening two new ones, educators would prefer to have both schools done at once.
Though city officials are saying it in public, they admit privately they’re content to let things drag a bit because of the hardship of coming up with the cash during a recession, particularly when so many residents have seen their property tax bills soar already.
Constructing the new schools would add about half a mill to the property tax rate even though the state is likely to pay about 70 percent of the overall tab.
Thibault said that she would like to see her state taxes used to help put up new schools in Bristol instead of paying to erect them in other towns.
She said that new buildings would help attract the young families that can bolster the community instead of the absentee landlords who have been snatching up rental property in recent years and perhaps contributing to the city’s decay.
“Invest in our community,” Thibault told city councilors recently.
Rookie city Councilor Cliff Block said that without new schools “nobody will want to live here.”
Ward said the city can’t proceed any faster than it is.
“There’s nothing you can do but wait,” he told Thibault.
The chairman of the city’s Real Estate Committee, city Councilor Frank Nicastro, said that his panel would have to approve any land purchases for schools before deals can be struck.
“But nothing’s been brought to us,” Nicastro said.
It’s not clear how much bargaining has been going on behind the scenes between the city and either Crowley or Scalia. A number of officials have expressed concern that the Scalia site in particular won’t work out because the owner wants too much money for it.
The long-term plan calls for closing Memorial Boulevard Middle School and three older elementary schools – O’Connell, Greene-Hills and Bingham.
Students in the other two middle schools, at Northeast and Chippens Hill, would not switch to a K-8 system when the new schools open, educators have said.
Instead, they said, there would be a dual system in Bristol for at least a few years.

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Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

“We’re in the initial, preliminary stages,” the mayor said. “We’re going through the process.”
________________________________

The Artie Process:

Step one - Keep Krawiecki - Failed
Step Two - Make Krawiecki Asst. CC - Failed
Step three - Wait until October and try again with Krawiecki.

Obviously the Artie process revolves around having Eddie in his pocket to do the actual negotiating. Without Edie to hold his hand and do his bidding Artie is useless. These negotiations will die on the vine. Art is in over his head and all alone.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Mr. Nicastro, please give us a little credit. When you want something moved through the Real Estate Committee, it gets done.

The fact of the matter is, you don't want new schools, and therefore, the committee of which you often indicate to us that you are its chairman, is sitting on its hands.

Prediction: There will not be any new schools in this community until 2015, when you and the present Mayor have long retired. Possibly then, we can have some progress in our community.

Anonymous said...

Thank God for Frank Nicastro.

Anonymous said...

While it may be tough to raise the tax money needed to build the schools during a recession, the flip side is that since construction companies will need the work, we may be able to get a better deal on costs.

Impeach O'Brien in 2009 said...

No new mega schools is NO LOSS to Bristol!

Anonymous said...

Keep repeating it 3:35 ~ maybe eventually someone other than yourself will believe it! LOL!!!

Anonymous said...

maybe the mayor, just a suggestion, should consider dumping these jerks from their present appointments where they think that they are gods and starting over - evaluate their ineffectiveness and put them on boards where they can do something for us - the taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Re: 8:04

There are many that believe the Mayor is in over his head, nice guy he is, but definitely in over his head, way over.

Anonymous said...

The garbage about the new schools is a joke. Our elected officials care more about thelittle things, dog poop. What is going on with Rockwell Park. You guys are dead weight. Look at Southing how they are growing and growing. Our politicans care only for their needs. Hope all you people who voted for them can feel ashamed. You all elected a bunch of jerks.

Anonymous said...

10:32 ~ Funny thing is that the people who think he's "in over his head" are the people who have always dislked him and they really, really hate the fact that he's mayor. If they could get over themselves and work with the man instead of against him, Bristol would be much better off.

Anonymous said...

"Look at Southing how they are growing and growing."

Golly gee 10:46 PM, maybe the fact that they have a major highway running through the middle of town might have something to do with it? With the present crummy economy and the future looking worse, I think our "dead weight" politicians are being cautious, and rightly so. I voted for them and I'm proud of it. It's a shame that every move they make is criticized by a bunch of jerks who are still furious that the people they voted for LOST.

Anonymous said...

I think both new school sites are nothing but overpriced shams. Just another clear example of the the good ole' boy network taking care of more of their buddies...Crowley and Scalia. Oh and I'm SURE D'Amato, Carpenter, Tomasso, the owners of "First Student" bus company and many others in the "network" will all have their hands out seeking more overpriced contracts for some of the work as well. Just think of all the infrastructure and sidewalks etc, that will be needed for Scalia...since there isn't ANY INFRASTRUCTURE at that site whatsoever. With diesel at $5 per gallon, do you honestly think it is cost effective and plausible to bus in 100% of the students to the Scalia site?? Give me a break...Who the hell do you think is gonna foot that bill alone?? Both Crowley and Scalia have prospered handsomely as the result of the citizens and companies in Bristol supporting and patronizing their businesses over the past 30+ years. And if you ask me, both of these folks owe something to the community in return. They are both Multi-Millionaires and I highly doubt they'd even feel the pinch if they were to donate or at least sell their properties to the City at a steep discount for a very good cause. Why not give something back to your community?? Something that would benefit all the kids in town and also ensure a good future for them as well. But instead all Crowley did was move his Headquarters to Plainville and take aways from our tax base...and now wants to cash in on us even more by selling his little lot for $2 millon + ?? What a scam. And Scalia is no better either.

Anonymous said...

I"m glad it's going slow. Maybe by the time it really takes steps there will be a new administration a new Board of Ed and some realistic people will ax the idea.

Block needs to get a clue. People aren't going to MOVE INTO this town if we have a K-8.

Hey Cliff, how many public K-8 schools are in Connecticut?

If it's such a fantastic idea why aren't other towns doing it too?

Odin said...

July 11, 2008 8:24 AM

Please stop saying "get over yourselves". It's an over-used, inane cliche that means "I'm too lazy to articulate why I disagree with you".

Anonymous said...

hey odin, get over it!

Anonymous said...

8:42

I like Artie and even voted for him. But I think he is over his head and thought so even when I voted for him. But he is our mayor. Given the alternative it could be worse. None of the bozos on the council would or could be any better (a moment of silence to note the passing of Larry Harmon who was the real Bozo).

Bristol faces many structural problems which are beyond the scope of local government. But our City Council could do better. Focusing on dog crap and wasting time on a massage parlor that has been operating for a few years rather than taking a hard look (everything on the table) at the budget or trying to address a rapidly growing vandalism and petty crime problem is symptomatic of the limited capabilities of our elected officials.

These problems are not unique to Bristol. The lengthening of the work day for professional and managerial folks in the private sector has reduced their ability to participate in civic life. For many, myself included, 10 hours is the norm and 12 hours is a weekly event and that does not count the commute or work at home in the form of email and phone calls. The increased work day has come at the expense of personal life which includes civic involvement such as running for office or serving on boards. That is why, the City Council over the last few years has primarily been composed of government employees, retirees, and other folks with out a full time job. These folks have the time or get release time for meetings and the like.

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...

"Prediction: There will not be any new schools in this community until 2015, when you and the present Mayor have long retired. Possibly then, we can have some progress in our community."


optimistic on that retirement year there eh...

Odin said...

July 11, 2008 7:29 PM

Cute.

Anonymous said...

Maybe our city officials should be looking at all the persons on the fire dept and police dept who do not live in Bristol and do not pay taxes in Bristol. Maybe it will help the VNA situation.

Their overtime alone for the year is something else.

This also is true of the city workers, especialy the public works dept, starting with Bill Wolfe.

Anonymous said...

3:13 - what the hell does your rambling have to do with the topic?

Anonymous said...

Easy now, Mr. Wolfe is a BIG supporter of Art.

Craig Minor said...

"Focusing on dog crap and wasting time on a massage parlor that has been operating for a few years rather than taking a hard look (everything on the table) at the budget or trying to address a rapidly growing vandalism and petty crime problem is symptomatic of the limited capabilities of our elected officials."

No, it's symptomatic of our compartmentalized system of government. The Charter mandates various committees with specific responsibilities. One of them is the Ordinance Committee, and their job is to make changes to ordinances. You imply that time and effort spent on "quality of life" issues like the dog and massage parlor ordinances are at the expense of other, more important pursuits. I don't think so. You may call it tinkering at the margins, but I say it's doing what we can with the limited resources we have. If you think we can stop vandalism by passing more laws, well, I'm open to suggestions, but a city of 60,000 people is going to have vandalism and petty crime.

Anonymous said...

The idea that a new mega school in a cruddy area like the west end will attract people to Bristol is a myth. It's a myth consigned to the Dum-o-crats like Block-head on the council and phoneys like Tom O'Brain-less on the BOE.

Anonymous said...

You whiners and Bristol-haters keep calling this a "megaschool" (it isn't) because you can't come up with any real reasons to oppose it. That bus has left the station, and if you and Frank and Art want to be under it, that can be arranged.

Anonymous said...

Is it Craig Minor or Whiner??

Anonymous said...

YES!

Anonymous said...

Hartford would call what Bristol is planning megaschools. It is just what they are getting rid of.

The Hartford Courant had many stories with detailed information about the K-8 schools Hartford has and how they learned that K-8 schools of this size were unsucessful for urban areas. This was at the same time Bristol was pushing forward on ours.

Hartford is eliminating all their K-8s and having to rebuild smaller schools, at exspense of the state, because they found urban K-8 schools of certain sizes did not work . Apparently the K-8s building designs are not flexable enough for reconfiguration to meet the needs of the new smaller classes and the schools have to be replaced with new buildings.

There is no study that shows that Bristol's plan of having a smaller population of 6-8 graders in a school will out weigh the damage done to the learning of the students by increasing in the number of students per teacher in the lower grades.

What we are getting is the fewest # of buildings, to hold the maximum # of students per teacher, and the old buildings will still be fixed up at the cost of tax payers but for other uses under other budgets.

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...

These problems are not unique to Bristol. The lengthening of the work day for professional and managerial folks in the private sector has reduced their ability to participate in civic life. For many, myself included, 10 hours is the norm and 12 hours is a weekly event and that does not count the commute or work at home in the form of email and phone calls. The increased work day has come at the expense of personal life which includes civic involvement such as running for office or serving on boards. That is why, the City Council over the last few years has primarily been composed of government employees, retirees, and other folks with out a full time job. These folks have the time or get release time for meetings and the like.





I Can't say it any better..

Anonymous said...

"That is why, the City Council over the last few years has primarily been composed of government employees, retirees, and other folks with out a full time job:

LMAO!!!

You couldn't have said it any better. NONE OF THESE PEOPLE HAVE FULL TIME JOBS!!!

LOL!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

If Bristol switches to K-8, this is one young family that will be moving as soon as we have a child in 4th or 5th grade.

We believe middle school (6-8 or 7-8) is an important transition from elementary to high school and there is NO reason to switch to K-8.

Heck, we'll be moving to another town eventually anyways. Bristol has nothing to offer for educated professionals...I only wish we knew that before we bought a home here. Our neighborhood is fine but around the office everyone laughs at how I live in "ghetto Bristol". Add in a decrepit downtown, having to drive 10-15 minutes to get to a highway, and this school business, and there's no reason we would stay once we have to worry about our kids' education.

Anonymous said...

I have asked this question countless times and no one, including BOE and City Leaders can answer it.

WHAT OTHER TOWNS IN CONNECTICUT HAVE A K-8 SYSTEM?

Anonymous said...

July 15, 2008 9:43 AM

Hint: no one is answering, because they're smart enough not to play your game. If they told you the name of a town that has done it, you'd say "but that city is nothing like Bristol!". So they aren't wasting their time.

PS: if you really wanted to know, you'd do your own research. You obviously have Internet access - find out an tell us!

Anonymous said...

Hint: no one is answering, because they're smart enough not to play your game. If they told you the name of a town that has done it, you'd say "but that city is nothing like Bristol!". So they aren't wasting their time.

My question is not part of a "game". I have done some research and have not found a city or town public school in the State of Connecticut with a K-8system with the exception of regional schools that serve more than one town.

My question is a legitimate one. If there is a single-city or single-town serving public K-8 school in Connecticut, I would like to know the following:

--What town is it?

--What is it's population?

--What is the population of the school and the breakdown per grade?

--What have the test scores been for the last four years of that school?

--What percentage of children in that town attend private schools for grades K-8?

If there is NOT a single-town or single-city serving public K-8 in Connecticut, why are Bristol children the test bunnies?


If the elected leaders of this town continue to treat every citizens question as a "game" instead of just answering their questions we would trust them a little more.

Anonymous said...

if you did your friggin research stupid, you would realize that certain individuals on the BOE did a sucky public relations job and did not present the "real" perspective of the new schools "NOT BEING A K-8 SCENARIO" but, in fact, being a K-5 plus a middle school, on the same campus, seperated by the commonality of a gymnasium, cafeteria and library.
now that you have the facts, does that change your mind?
Didn't think so - sleep well anyhow.