The Bristol Technical Education Center is virtually certain to remain open this year, state lawmakers said.
“The chances of that school closing are a billion to one,” said state Rep. Frank Nicastro, a Bristol Democrat serving his second term in the 79th District.
“I think it’s safe,” state Sen. Tom Colapietro said Wednesday. The 31st District Democrat from Bristol said he “can’t find an advantage to closing that school.”
Though Gov. Jodi Rell has proposed closing the school as part of her effort to shave billions in state spending, the city’s legislative delegation is determined to keep the school open. They have backing from legislative leaders, including House Speaker Chris Donovan, a Meriden Democrat.
Rell has also proposed shuttering the courthouse in Bristol, a move that legislators also oppose.
Nicastro said, though, that when he was asked which was more important to keep, he answered without hesitation that the technical school matters most.
A petition calling on state officials to leave the school alone is attracting many signatures around town, according to Mayor Art Ward, whose office is collecting the finished papers.
“It’s vital to the community and of the utmost importance” to keep the school open, the mayor said.
Rell’s office has made clear that she is merely searching for ways to save money and is ready to leave the school open as long as cuts can be made elsewhere.
The school’s fate is caught up in closed-door budget negotiations that have yet to reach a deal that both the governor and the legislature can stomach.
Colapietro said the technical education school in Bristol serves a crucial function in training people to do crucial jobs in everything from culinary arts to heating and air conditioning.
Shutting down the school will make it much harder for people to get training for good jobs, he said, and impose additional costs on employers who may have to shell out for the education for workers themselves.
“I will fight tooth and nail” to keep the school open, Colapietro said.
The Greater Bristol Chamber of Commerce and local springmaking companies are also among the school’s champions. They are lobbying heavily to keep the school from closing.
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