June 16, 2009

Rationale for Bristol tech school unclear

It’s not clear why Gov. Jodi Rell is trying to close the Bristol Technical Education Center.
The chair of the state Board of Education’s Technical High School Committee, Beverly Bobroske, said the state panel never recommended its closure and believes “very, very strongly” that it should remain open.
Bobroske, a former head of Bristol’s Board of Education and an unsuccessful Republican contender for state Senate in 2004 and 2006, said the school serves a crucial need.
Gov. Jodi Rell’s proposed budget would shutter the two-year school in order to save taxpayers $2 million annually, a figure that remains unexplained. Rell said that painful cuts such as the closing the technical school are needed to close a monstrous budget hole without resorting to tax hikes.
State Rep. Chris Wright, a Bristol Democrat whose 77th District covers the northeastern section of town, said that sacrifices are going to be necessary to address the budget.
“But sacrificing the future of our children, sacrificing the future of our state, is not the way to do that,” Wright said.
The claim that closing the school will save $2 million annually doesn’t appear to hold weight to those who know the institution.
Because of labor agreements reached between the state and its unions, which agreed to wage cuts in return for a no-layoffs guarantee, the staff of the school will remain on the payroll. They’d simply be shifted to one of the other technical schools for at least the next two years.
“No one will be laid off,” said Abigail Hughes, the superintendent of the technical high school system.
Since labor costs make up the bulk of the expense at the technical school, officials said, it’s hard to imagine how closing it could lead to significant savings.
The governor’s budget cites the savings from laying off 30 people to explain its purported cost-cutting. But few if any of the personnel at the school can be laid off due to the deal Rell made with state workers.
The other technical school targeted by Rell, Stamford’s Wright Technical School, is suffering from dwindling enrollment and aging infrastructure.
Bobroske said the state school panel indicated in December that it might suspend the Stamford school’s operations for a couple of years while an agreement about its future could be worked out with a nearby community college.
Even that, Bobroske said, was done reluctantly.
But nobody ever considered shutting down the Bristol school, she said.
Students at the school Tuesday who have toured other technical schools said that Bristol’s technology is much better the norm and its educational program superb.
“There is no reason or justification as to why a school that creates so many life-changing opportunities and gives back so much to the community should be closed,” said Kyle Orde, an adult student who attends it.
Ben Russell, who teaches manufacturing, said the school provides the basis of a solid career for its students.
“Get a foundation and you can go anywhere,” Russell said. “It’s a great little school.”

Between October and May, only one technical school in Connecticut saw its high school age enrollment rise: the Bristol Technical Education Center.
Among the other 17 technical schools in the state, the average class lost 3 percent of its students.
Only Bristol, where the number rose from 108 to 113 students, saw an increase in those attending during the course of the school year, according to statistics provided by the state Board of Education’s Technical High School Committee.
Bristol also has another 22 adult students who paid more than $64,000 in tuition to attend this year, a number that’s slated to rise to more than $105,000 next year when 34 adults have been accepted.
Bristol’s technical school also has 106 students on its waiting list for the academic year that begins in August.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com


Concerned Conservative said...

Steve Collins: Stop your Jodi Rell hatchet job already! Haven't the Democrats done enough to bankrupt the state and drive jobs out? You want more?

Most good machinists learn on the job anyway and there's barely anyone in the machinist program anyway (if there's even one there at all).

Clearly the small and somewhat isolated Bristol Tech would be the first to go. One can attend EC Goodwin, Oliver Wolcott, Vinal or Kaynor Tech if they want to learn how to install heat ducts. Give us a break already! EC Goodwin is an old tech school that graduated something like 86 students this year in an area which was once the arsenal of the country and a huge manufacturing hub. New Britain is more centralized and is obviously in need of help too.

As a resident of West Hartford Steve, you should know the kids in your town most likely would attend Goodwin. Stop with your phony condescending attention to all things Bristol when in this case it's just an opportunity to take a swipe at Hamzy and Gov. Rell.

Steve Collins said...

How am I taking a swipe at Hamzy? I respect his thoughts on this and most everything else.

movin' on said...

11:57 (CONCERNED CONSERVATIVE) should get thrown off the white steed that they are riding on and come to reality that there is more to life than them; best thing that can happen to them is that their toilet backs up when their air conditioner goes caput and they realize that they are in "hot shit"....

Concerned Conservative said...

movin' on:

I went to school (regular public) with my plumber. And most of the good machinists I know (who actually "studied" the trade in high school) went to Bristol Tech (formerly known as the EC Goodwin satellite school). So your point is once again silly (as well as bizarrely written).

And in general why keep insulting me and arguing with me and just resign yourself to the fact that I'm almost always right?

Anonymous said...

Should remove all the politians. Replace them with the creaps in the west end. Maybe they could do a better job.

Anonymous said...

If all the creeps as you call them are removed none of you and CC's followers would be around. If you can't stand the heat "Get out of the kitchen"

Anonymous said...

Hey CC I thought it was your Governor's proposal to shut down the school? See what your worth ?..... Nothing!