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Over-capacity crowd turns out for Bristol city budget workshop

BRISTOL — Nearly 200 teachers, parents and staff packed Bristol City Hall Wednesday evening for a city budget workshop in which one of the discussion topi...
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BRISTOL — Nearly 200 teachers, parents and staff packed Bristol City Hall Wednesday evening for a city budget workshop in which one of the discussion topics was the potential closure of two schools.

“Anything that we could cut we’ve already cut,” said Chris Wilson, Bristol’s Board of Education chairman. “The only way we can bridge a gap this big is–staff and none of us want to make that. The superintendent said no one on the Board wants to make that kind of decision.”

The school district is facing a budget gap of $3.2 million, and among the options to close that gap are closing and consolidating the staff and students of one or two unnamed schools.

District leaders cite teacher salaries, benefits and a federal mandate for special education as the major costs facing the school system.

Meanwhile, everyone seemed optimistic that a decision could be reached.

“To me the glass is half full,” said Ellen Solek, superintendent of Bristol Public Schools. “It’s not going to stay at 3.2 (million dollars). I really feel really firmly that we are going to get closer. I hope will al my heart that we would never have to face the possibility of closing schools in this district.”

Another meeting for discussion is planned for Tuesday April 26.