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Bristol Plan Could Close One Or Two Elementary Schools

Bristol’s board of education is considering a reconfiguration that would close one or two more elementary schools and reconstruct Northeast Middle School for kindergarten to eighth grade.

If the plan is enacted, the city would shut down either Stafford or Edgewood elementary schools — or possibly both.

The reconfiguration of Northeast would leave Chippens Hill Middle School as the only middle school in the city, and Hubbell, South Side, Mountain View and Ivy Drive as the last four elementary schools.

The proposal is at least partly contingent on state funding to open an arts magnet school at the former Memorial Boulevard Middle School, and educators emphasized that no final decision has been made.

This was the second time in a week that a Connecticut city has talked about consolidating schools; Hartford Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez presented a plan Tuesday for shutting 10 buildings and concentrating more students in the remaining ones.

Hartford’s proposal would be accomplished in stages over the next three years. Bristol educators emphasized that their proposal, too, would not be done in a single year.

“This is a long-range plan — we’re looking at what we’d do with buildings years from now,” board Chairman Christopher Wilson said.

The school board’s operations committee voted 2-1 this week to endorse the plan, but the full board won’t act until January at the earliest.

Bristol’s education system until a few years ago operated a traditional network of elementary, middle and high schools. But burdened with a large inventory of increasingly outdated elementary buildings and changing enrollment patterns, the city made a radical change.

Between 2010 and 2012, it shut down the Jennings, O’Connell and Bingham elementary schools along with the historic Memorial Boulevard building. It reorganized grades for thousands of students by opening the West Bristol and Greene-Hills schools serving kindergarten through eighth grade.

At the time, the school board said Bristol would operate with parallel systems: Some students would attend elementary, middle and high schools, while others would go to the kindergarten-to-eighth-grade buildings and then on to high school.

Last year, the city became interested in creating an arts magnet school inside the Memorial Boulevard building. State funding for that change, however, has not been approved. That would be an element of the plan to extend the transition by reconfiguring Northeast and closing one or two additional elementary schools, Wilson said.

The long-range plan is partly focused on helping the city project what it will spend to renovate its schools over the next decade, and to prioritize which buildings will get roof replacements, heating system upgrades and similar work.

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