Bristol voters will once again decide whether to approve a ballot question to fund significant renovations to Bristol Consolidated School. The most notable difference between the vote two decades ago and now is likely the price tag.
The project vetoed by almost a 2-1 margin by Bristol residents in March 2003 would have included the conversion of two existing classrooms into a dedicated cafeteria, the addition of two new classrooms to replace the pair that was converted, air quality improvements, heating and electrical system upgrades, and more.
The price tag at the time was $1.9 million. Associate Editor Sherwood Olin, who was the reporter covering Bristol at the time, remembers there being a healthy amount of concern about the year’s budget.
Twenty years later, the project hasn’t changed much. Stated goals include building a cafeteria, the addition of two classrooms, air quality improvements, heating and electric upgrades, and more.
The price tag this time, however, is $6.4 million, not accounting for accruing interest.
The Bristol School Committee deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the countless hours put into research, developing the plans, hosting public hearings, and remaining transparent through the entire process.
Now this once-in-a-generation question is turned over to Bristol residents, who have a history of showing up for issues of importance. One doesn’t need to look further than the 1,108 residents who made their way to the polls to vote on the future of the Bristol Mills Dam in July 2018 to see this.
The future of the school and the education of the town’s children deserve the same impassioned turnout.