Joint board of council, finance OKs $54.8M for arts magnet school

Published on Tuesday, 13 February 2018 21:43
Written by Lorenzo Burgio


BRISTOL - The Joint Board of the City Council and Board of Finance unanimously approved $54.8 million - and to bond that amount - to renovate the Memorial Boulevard School into an intradistrict arts magnet school.

The board, on Tuesday, also unanimously approved to make the $13.2 million bonded on July 25, 2017 for phase one of the Memorial Boulevard theater project part of the $54.8 million appropriation.

The $54.8 million is for the total cost to renovate the building into a magnet school for grades six through 12, and renovate the school’s auditorium into a theater.

Cheryl Thibeault, chairman of the finance board, referenced a feasibility study commissioned by the Board of Education that discussed the “disposition” of Bristol schools and considered the proposed magnet school.

“The (school’s) operating budget does not afford for another full school to be coming on board without something to be done with the prior properties,” Thibeault said.

The school board is currently reviewing the study and is expected to vote in April on one of the four options it, Thibeault said.

“Secondly, it’s important that we have established a nonprofit for the running of the Boulevard theater, and that some kind of agreement for the operation of that theater will need to be worked out should the (magnet) school come to fruition,” Thibeault added.

John Smith, vice chairman of the finance board, said “Relative to the nonprofit, I understand that that’s underway.”

The school board has applied for state funding to renovate the former school anticipated to open in 2020-21, and hopes to hear back about the state funding in late February or March. The money approved Tuesday night was the last item needed for the state funding application.

The anticipated reimbursement rate from the state is 68.93 percent of the total cost, but the school board reduced that by 5 percent to have a conservative estimate, project manager for Bristol schools Tim Callahan has said.

Using that conservative reimbursement rate, the city would spend $6.5 million in addition to the $13.2 million previously appropriated for the school and theater projects, Callahan said in January.

Lorenzo Burgio can be reached at 860-801-5088 or by email at

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol on Tuesday, 13 February 2018 21:43. Updated: Tuesday, 13 February 2018 21:45.