The Bristol Board of Education held its first meeting of 2018, and one of the biggest items on the agenda was the possible redistricting of the Bristol Schools district.
The district worked with the architectural firm, Drummey Rosane Anderson, Inc. (DRA) to conduct a feasibility study. This study, presented to the board by Jim Barrett, included 12 buildings; two high schools, two middle schools (grades six through eight), six elementary schools, two K-8 schools, and the addition of the possible arts magnet school for grades six through 12.
Barrett said that DRA came up with four possible redistricting plans. The first option, to lay a baseline, would be to “do nothing” and stay with the current configuration of the district. The second would be to change all of the middle and elementary schools into K-8 schools. This would involve building an additional school building or renovating at least two of the existing buildings. The third possibility would be to configure the district so that there is only one middle school, Northeast. And the fourth option, similarly to the third, would have Chippens Hill as the only middle school.
Vice chair Karen Vibert emphasized that the district is not pushing for every school to be a K-8, and the Operations Committee is recommending option four, to make Chippens Hill the only middle school.
The presentation led to many questions and comments from the school board. Commissioner David Scott was concerned with the level of academic progress, saying “I’m curious to know, in these evaluations, did we weigh student performance into the consideration of making K-8s? Have we seen improvements? Have we seen regressions in our students, in terms of academic performances?”
Similarly, commissioner Jeffrey Caggiano wondered if DRA had spoken to school principals and administrators when working on the study.
Commissioner Karen Hintz, board secretary, made a motion to move forward the option four configuration to the Board of Finance, the motion was seconded by Commissioner Thomas O’Brien. Commissioner Joseph Grabowski then made a motion to have Hintz’s rescinded, and proposed having the study sent back to the Operations Committee in order to have more information on the K-8 system made available. That motion passed.
“My biggest concern,” said O’Brien after passage of the motion,” is financial and making sure we have enough money to make sure everyone is properly educated.
The Student Representative Reports were also a key item on the meeting. Both representatives, Olivia Rajotte of Bristol Central High School and Madison Fostervold of Bristol Eastern, reported on cyberbullying and the effects on students.
Fostervold presented a PowerPoint from the previous school year. In the survey, 88 students (from all four grades) were asked various questions relating to cyberbullying, the social media sites they use, and whether or not they felt as if they had someone they could talk to within the school setting.
Also during the meeting, Superintendent Susan Moreau recognized the 17 recipients of the Bristol Education Foundations Mini Grants. Moreau said that the grants presented totalled about $14,000, and these grants would allow the receiving schools and teachers better supplement a learning environment by allowing teachers to teach their subjects in new and creative ways.