Your View: Be proud of Bristol's public schools

Published on Friday, 21 April 2017 19:48
Written by Andrew Howe

Bristol Republican Town Committee

Over the last few weeks, there have been claims that the Bristol schools have been underfunded and therefore falling behind.

Per the 2015-2016 State of Connecticut Accountability and Achievement Results, the facts are drastically different.

Our language arts, math and science scores are within one to two points of the state average, and that gap has been shrinking. The high schools here in town outperformed their peers statewide. Our graduation rates have grown from 79.8 to 83.2 percent since 2012/13 to 2015/16. It also goes on to say that as one of the 31 Alliance districts, Bristol’s Next Generation Accountability Index is fourth from the top! This year Bristol was recognized by the commissioner of education as well as the Connecticut Legislature’s Education Committee as one of the three top-performing Alliance Districts in the State.

Although it is true our per/pupil expenditure is at the lower end of the our District Reference Group, Bristol’s high schools combined SAT reading and math scores have improved by 28 points from the prior year. We are are third and fourth respectively with average scores in our DRG, 50 points ahead of peers like Bloomfield, which spends nearly $6,000 more per/pupil than Bristol. Bristol’s absenteeism rate is lower than the state average. Physical fitness test rates have exceeded the state average in all areas. In the first year that Republicans controlled the mayor’s office and the Board of Education, Bristol added full-day kindergarten. As a direct result, the study shows academic and socials skills are growing leaps and bounds. Under the direction of a Republican Board of Finance and City Council, turf fields are in at both schools and being used by our students and the community. Our music department has been recognized nationally by the NAMM Foundation as one of the best communities for music education. Additionally, our art program is being recognized year after year for awards at the local, state and national levels. Although money is important in education, these results are proof positive that value in education is primarily the result of people: kudos to our teachers and administrators in Bristol that do so much for our students. Let’s remember them and not use them a tool to negotiate for more funds.

Are our schools still sounding substandard? Parents can rest easy that the educational value that is being offered in Bristol is well in line with communities with even less socio-economic burdens. The Board of Finance current increase in funding for the Board of Education is recommended at 3 percent, which is twice that of any surrounding community. In addition over the last four years starting with the introduction of all-day kindergarten, the city has given on average $3 million of extra funding that has not been considered online and raised our minimum budget requirement. Republicans are proving they are the right choice for education in this city.

Andrew Howe is chair of the Public Relations Committee, on behalf of the Republican Town Committee.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Letters on Friday, 21 April 2017 19:48. Updated: Friday, 21 April 2017 19:50.