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Potential cuts leave Bristol community members fighting for programs in schools

BRISTOL — Parents, students and teachers, outraged by word of program cuts in Bristol schools. The Bristol Board of Education is trying to find ways to ma...
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BRISTOL -- Parents, students and teachers, outraged by word of program cuts in Bristol schools.

The Bristol Board of Education is trying to find ways to make up for more than a $1 million shortfall.

“The superintendent gave us her initial draft recommendations of some potential cuts we can make to bridge the $1 million gap that the board of finances asked us to cut,” Board of Education Chairman Christopher Wilson said.

Wilson said the draft included not replacing some positions of retirees, cutting some student programs, eliminating stipends for some teachers of clubs like drama, and some cuts in some equipment and supplies.

The concern for people who spoke at the Board of Education meeting Thursday was, at what cost will these cuts be to the kids?

Kayla Brown is a junior at Bristol Eastern High School and very involved in the drama program, and at school she heard the program and teacher positions could possibly be cut due to budget concerns.

“She was worried that she wouldn't be able to participate in these programs that helped her find a voice and helped her develop new friends and fit into her community,” her mother Laura Brown said.

Both Laura and Kayla spoke at the Board of Education meeting which was going on the same time the Bristol Central and Eastern High Schools had music concerts, put on by programs also which parents were concerned would be cut.

“I would be crushed because it’s one of my favorite things at school and it’s one of the reasons I enjoy going and it helps me be able to be who I am,” Kayla said.

About 100 people including students, parents and teachers showed up to Thursday’s meeting which was about school representatives hearing everyone out, before making decisions.

"We have some people who work in those programs and their positions were potentially going to be cut,” Wilson said. “It doesn't sound like the board is that interested in pursuing those cuts so I think we'll be looking in other directions.”

The Board of Education members said decisions would also be dependent on how many people retire.

“This is a very dynamic process that we're trying to get as much input and thought so we make the best decisions for the community, for our students for our families,” Wilson said.

No decision was made Thursday night, the Board of Education plans to meet again in June.