September 23, 2008

Schools flee downtown, too

A Board of Education report prepared for Wednesday's Planning Commission session has an interesting map included within it.
The map, which I'll try to post here later, shows the location of each of the city's schools and the two sites eyed for new kindergarten to eighth grade buildings.
What's striking about the map is that when you exclude the schools that officials aim to close - O'Connell, Bingham and Memorial Boulevard in particular - what you have left is a circle of school locations that entirely bypasses the city center.
South Side and Jennings schools would be the closest ones left to downtown if the current plan goes through. And Jennings may not survive many more years.
What would be left in the city center are the old buildings - from the Board of Education's own headquarters on School Street to the former high schools on Summer Street and the boulevard, along with O'Connell, Bingham and the school beside Federal Hill Green that's now a pleasant apartment building. There may be others that aren't coming to mind.
It’s interesting at the very least that at the same time City Hall is spending millions to try to pump life into downtown, the school system is giving up on it completely.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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Anonymous said...

Who lives "downtown"?

What other towns have schools downtown?

Why have key space used about half the year?

Anonymous said...

It's called disinvestment in the urban core or the sprawl development pattern. That is, major public institutions fleeing to the edges of a community.

The longstanding residents and neighborhoods who have been traditionally serviced by these schools are being abandoned.

In the future, there will be little incentive for first-time homebuyers to live in these areas. Young families with children (first time home buyers)will want to live closer to the schools since it's more convenient.
The longstanding homeowners in the "traditional town" area are being screwed financially. Their house value will decline relative to the new areas that are being supported and anchored by a school.

Take away a school, kill a neighborhood, foster middle class flight, foster slum creation.
It's the same sad story about the decline of the american city being played out in Bristol, just one more time.

The ironic part is that the residential property owners of the "traditional town area" will be subject to increased taxes in order to support his own future financial distress and decline.

John Reek said...

Somebody needs to sound the alarm that bristol is not mayberry. we are a large spread out city any school near downtown will just a traffic and pedestrian nightmare.
talk to anyone on the bingham pta or staff about traffic.
First time homebuyers near bingham? are you kidding?
there should be an influx of people around oconnel because there will be a brand new park finished soon but who wants to live next to a new park anyway.
Jennings nieghborhood looks just fine with all those houses surrounding it, right?
these scare tactics dont scare anybody.
bristol is growing and changing we must adapt or be left behind

Anonymous said...

Something REEK'S in hear of the Good Ole Boy Network. :)

Tom B. said...

In the 30's, when my neighbor was in school, most of the population lived within walking distance to the downtown schools: Bingham, O'Connell, Jennings and Patterson or the two Forestville schools. The farm kids out on the eastern end of town went to Farmington Ave. school (now Roland Dumont agency. The primary schools were K-8 and the Summer St. school was used for 9th grade "Freshman" high school.
Bristol is running out of open places to put schools and until you can convince the council to tear down buildings, you won't see any schools downtown. That's why I thought that the new west-end school should be built on the mall property.

Anonymous said...

11:24 - You may have had a valid argument in the 1960's. Not anymore. The kids will take the bus and whether or not the ride is 5 or 10 minutes longer because the new school is on the outskirts is of little or no consequence to most parents. It's still a NEW school and that will attract young families.

Anonymous said...

More important than a new school is the impression that will be created, that Bristol supports education.

Right now the impression is that we don't, that we don't support the educators, that we won't adequately fund education.

It is disasterous.

Anonymous said...

Well, around the central core of Bristol are neigborhoods, the longstanding neighborhoods of The South End, Federal Hill, the West End, and the North End. These areas contain both single family, and multi-family dwellings.
Yes, these are denser areas than the typical modern suburban development.
And YES, there are first time home buyers there, as well as renters in these older areas of the city.

These buyers may not be as rich as some people, and their homes may not be as opulent as some. Their homes may be older, and not of a modern suburban sprawl form; but the people still live in these neighborhoods. They make up the city, pay taxes, and still deserve to be serviced with a convenient nearby school.

Traffic nightmares are caused by sprawl development patterns.

Why is it that only the "newer areas" of the city are being serviced and supported, while the older areas are being completely abandoned?

Don't invest in these areas, don't support them, withdraw the schools, and downtown will be worse financial flop than it is now.

Anonymous said...

Well, I sure hear the "confederacy of greed" talking. Now let's come down to earth: support for education does not equal support for new schools. Education is not supplied by bricks. In this "green" era, we should be using the buildings we have for a longer period of time. Besides, they don't build anything as well as they used to.

Anonymous said...

A blind support of building new schools could actually hurt education.

The new schools will have to be bonded. Given the fragile economic state of the general economy the bond servicing could force cuts in existing programs to provide funds to service the bonds if the residents are unable or unwilling to support larger education budgets.

Anonymous said...

These older buildings are not

Also, failure to provide adequate support creates a feeling of "nobody cares, why should I?"

Also, the older buildings do not provide for equal educational opportunities.

Anonymous said...

How do the older buildings not supply equal educational opportunities as opposed to a newer building?

Gee, I guess I shouldn't send my kid to Avon Old Farms School, or Harvard, or Princeton, or Yale!

What can't you teach a primary school student in an older building as opposed to a newer building?

Anonymous said...

The older buildings do make excellent apartments and condos while preserving a bit of Bristol's history.

Anonymous said...

I agree, blind support for this building program could actually hurt education in the long run.
As was suggested, given the unravelling economic meltdown, future state and federal supports flowing into the city could very well decrease.

So bottom line is, we can put our dollars into new bricks or we can keep our dollars maximized in teachers.
New Britian just layed off a number of teachers due to budget constraints.

Yes, the new buildings may appear pretty to some from the outside generating positive aesthetic feelings, while others may be completely horrified.

However, education is truly about what develops during the day between the ears of the students occupying the building.

The size of the school is most important, not the age of the building.
It appears as if the school administration is constructing primary schools designed to be lower achieving and socially troubled.

Anonymous said...

"In this "green" era, we should be using the buildings we have for a longer period of time. Besides, they don't build anything as well as they used to."

True, in theory. The reality of these specific buildings, however, is that they should be renovated as commercial or apartments buildings and added to the grand list, and be replaced with new cost-effective schools.

Anonymous said...

8-10 yeas back the Board of Education wanted to renovate some schools and came up with a plan.

The administration, under Nicastro, sat on it and it eventually died.

Then Couture came along and bought the Mall.
There was no mention of a school being considered. That plan died too.

Now, the Board of Education wants to make some physical changes, ostensibly for the benefit of the students. It looks like this will die a painful death again.

Ironically, the one constant in this whole operation (all three aspects) is Now Mayor, then Councilman Ward.

Where is the leadership????

Anonymous said...

please tell us who are the"GOOD OLD BOYS'

Anonymous said...

It is never "cost-effective" to build schools that are not absolutely needed. I mean needed as in needing to replace one that is destroyed by a tornado, as opposed to "needing" one that is new and shiny and pretty. If these buildings can be renovated into modern apartments, they can even more easily renovated into updated schools. The "confederacy of greed" will tell you differently, though. Every teacher would like a new classroom (why not?) and every principal and superintendent wants a new school (or several) on their resume. This is all at our expense, and many of us taxpayers are reluctant. So they insult us with statements like "you don't support education" and "you hate kids." More and more people are seeing through this, however, and we're tired of the greed. What we really need is for the BOE to see through this b------- and get a new way of looking at things. Something like "you need to show us improved education with what you have" would be refreshing.

Anonymous said...


Start with Art Ward and some of his contractor buddies.

Anonymous said...

Steve, it is not up to the Board of Education to promote Downtown, that is up to the Mayor and the City council, AND the Chamber, who ironically has taken the Mum Festival out of Downtown.

The BOE should be looking at educating or children in th ebest manner possible.

Ironically, if we close Bingham, there are mnay uses that could help promote downtown, Same with the Boulevard, so in some ways they are providing opportunities for the city to go forward.