July 27, 2013

Cockayne: Only crumbs for the classrooms

A letter to the editor from Republican mayoral candidate Ken Cockayne:
 The tickets for the November election have been endorsed by both Town Committees this week.

The Republican slate of City Council candidates represents a diversified slate that is ready to roll up its sleeves and bring positive change to our community and I am excited to work with them for the betterment of Bristol.

I, however, was struck by a comment made by my opponent for mayor. He stated that the Democrats were going to give us “A great 21st century city with a strong education system.”

The reason this comment perplexed me was that I believe we already have a strong education system.

It is appalling that the current chairman of the Bristol Board of Education who has been a member of that body for nearly a decade can make a statement alluding to fact that we don’t have a strong education system.

A few years back when my opponent was leading the charge to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on closing four neighborhood schools and constructing two new buildings he told us that this new K-8 concept was going to improve the quality of our education and give us state-of-the-art facilities.

Now that the city has invested millions of hard-earned tax dollars and redistricted thousands of students, the board chairman and Democrat nominee says that we are still in need of “a strong education system.”

I believe the teachers in our community do a terrific job of educating our students with the limited resources the board chairman has allocated to them.  As it has been well documented in The Bristol Press over the past few years, our current education structure is way too top heavy with a majority of the scarce education dollars going to central office and school administrators, leaving the crumbs to make their way to the classrooms.

This is evident by the fact that after closing four neighborhood schools, the Board of Education laid off not one administrator and let go of 32 teachers in the process.

As mayor, I will have very little to say about how education dollars are appropriated on Church Street.

The current state law ties the hands of local fiscal appropriators.

Having said that, we all know that more changes are needed at central office to ensure that our students are receiving a quality education and our teachers have the resources needed to teach them.

Obviously this process has been a challenge for the current chairman of the Board of Education and it was made more apparent by his comments alluding to the fact that our education system is weak and that our city isn’t ready for the 21st century.

I believe that our community is well positioned for the 21st century. The development of downtown Bristol and the opportunities available by the completion of Route 72 will make our community more prosperous and help reduce our tax burden on businesses and homeowners.
Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

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