ELLEN ZOPPO-SASSU: It's back to school in Bristol

Published on Sunday, 1 September 2019 20:28
Written by Ellen Zoppo-Sassu

Mayor of Bristol

Tuesday is the day that 8,000 Bristol kids head back to classes. West Bristol is the lucky school this year, as Parker won the fire truck ride to his first day of kindergarten and Caleb will arrive via our new Public Works 6-wheeler!

Last week, Bristol teachers gathered for Convocation at Bristol Central High School with Catherine Carbone, who is starting her first year as superintendent. The energy level was high, as new teachers were introduced, veteran teachers recognized, and promotions celebrated. A special shout out to the new administration team at Bristol Eastern - Mike Higgins as interim principal, Latanya Farrell and Melanie Vetrano as assistant principals.

The theme of the event was “Leave a Legacy” and the keynote speaker for the Convocation was Malcolm Huckaby, BCHS Class of 1989, who went on to have a successful career on and off the court at Boston College and in the NBA, and now as a financial planner and analyst for ESPN. His new title is Bristol resident, dad of three Greene-Hills Gators and a recently appointed member of the city’s Parks Commission.

Also last week, members of the Board of Finance, Board of Education and staff toured 3 schools to look at completed - and needed - projects. The schools and City Hall are working closely together to maximize efficiencies and spend dollars wisely. You might have seen the Public Works Department filling potholes at Greene-Hills, or working on drainage issues that affect residents adjacent to schools, or the Sewer Department out at Edgewood School last year to fix a problem in the middle of the night so school could reopen the next day. A BOE employee helped out to finish painting the comptroller’s office last year, and we greatly appreciated the BOE HVAC tech rushing over to the City Hall Computer Room that houses over $250,000 worth of servers when the AC went down.

This summer, the City Hall tech staff oversaw the migration of the BOE email software to a Google platform, as well as implementing a new printer/copier installation. These two moves will save the BOE almost $200,000 annually. Meetings are planned in late September to continue the dialogue about how the two halves of city government - the BOE and City Hall - can continue to identify shared functions and opportunities to reduce costs and improve efficiencies. And, this past week, the city was recognized by the National Association of Government IT Leaders with a Best Practices Award for its Consolidation of IT between City Hall and the Bristol Public Schools.

Meanwhile, the Building Committee for the Memorial Boulevard Intra-district Arts Magnet School continues to evaluate construction methods and costs as well as anticipated asbestos remediation. The Bristol Historical Society also weighed in this week, sending a letter to the State Historic Preservation Office in support of Option A, which would leave the main entrance where it currently is, as opposed to it moving and incurring additional costs. To date, the potential reuse of this classic building has widespread community support.

As we head toward the 100th anniversary of both the Memorial Boulevard roadway and the school building, we are very excited about the new role this magnet school will play in the future of the next 100 years of students to cross its threshold.

Many of the students who attended the old Bristol High School remember Minerva, the Goddess of Wisdom, who graced the vestibule. “Meet me at Minerva” was an often heard phrase in the hallways during the 1920s through the 1950s. Today, a slightly worn Minerva is ensconced in Latin teacher Kelly Monahan-Dinoia’s BCHS classroom. An initiative is underway to raise funds to restore Minerva so she can return to her place of honor when the school reopens, so the great-grandchildren of BHS alumni can start their own tradition of texting each other to “meet at Minerva.” If you would like to contribute to the restoration of Minerva and the repair of her snake and staff, please send tax-deductible donations to the 501c3 Memorial Boulevard Cultural Center (MBCC) c/o the Mayor’s Office, 111 N. Main Street.

Ellen Zoppo-Sassu is the mayor of Bristol.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Column, Editorials on Sunday, 1 September 2019 20:28. Updated: Sunday, 1 September 2019 20:30.