James Murdock, an electrical contractor for the past 43 years, said Tuesday the Bristol Technical Education Center is crucial for young people looking to get into the trades.
“We need people who can do things with their hands,” Murdock said.
But the fate of the school depends less on how well it educates the next generation of skilled workers than how well the school’s backers can make its case in the corridors of the Capitol in the coming days.
House Speaker Christopher Donovan, a Meriden Democrat, stood in front of a battery of television cameras in front of the school Tuesday to declare that closing it would “the wrong thing to do.”
“We need to cut fat, not muscle,” Donovan said, “and this is muscle.”
Gov. Jodi Rell has targeted the school for closure in a bid to save the money needed to cope with an $8 billion budget gap. She said that finding the cash requires some painful cuts, including shuttering the school in Bristol.
Mike Nicastro, president of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce, said the tech school is needed.
“We still have a manufacturing base here. We need to supply that base,” Nicastro said. “Why would we kill such an integral, important piece of this community?”
Plymouth resident Cindy Scoville said the Bristol-based New England Spring and Metalstamping Association has had “a brother-sister” relationship with the school since it opened.
The idea of closing it “just boggles my mind,” Scoville said.
“I don’t even understand why we would ever think of dismantling the shining example of regionalization,” Mayor Art Ward said, pointing to the more than two dozen towns whose students attend it.
The state representative whose 78th District includes the school, Republican Bill Hamzy of Plymouth, said its unique two-year program has proven itself worthwhile.
Michael Suchopar, who heads the Bristol Boys and Girls Club, said it helps students whose potential can “go untapped in a public school.”
Closing it, he said, would “close the doors to the future for many of these students.”
“It serves a purpose even greater than we recognize,” Suchopar said.
Former Burlington First Selectman Theodore Scheidel said that “to have it go away would be very sad for the community.”
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