BFT Election Set for September 14

The election for all building stewards and the three grade level vice-presidents will occur on Wednesday, September 14, 2016. A notice will be placed in school mailboxes shortly announcing the election. Those who wish to run for office must send an email (via Groupwise) or other form of written notification to BFT President David Hayes by September  6. This includes incumbents.

The following offices, all of which have 2 years terms, are up for election:

High School VP

Middle School VP

Elementary VP

  • Each High School is allotted 4 stewards
  • Each Middle School or K-8 is allotted 3 stewards
  • Each Elementary School is allotted 2 stewards.
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Posted by on August 25, 2016 in Uncategorized


SPED Costs Last School Year Go Over Budget – Updated

From the Bristol Press:

BRISTOL — The public school budget ended 2015-16 with a $1,236,993 deficit, mostly due to special education costs.

“Special ed is our biggest cost driver, and the most unpredictable,” said Karen Vibert, the Board of Education’s finance committee chair.

Vibert said she expects the $1.2 million to be covered by the Excess Cost Sharing state grant, which goes to the city “but statutorily it has to come to the Board of Ed if we have an overage.”

The total deficit was actually higher, but it was offset by the one percent of the previous year’s budget that can be carried forward by state statute, as well as some savings in other budget areas, she said.

The special ed deficit overall was $3,999,334, she said. “It’s really important that we know the true deficit, because when we go to build our budget for next year we need to see exactly what this year’s special ed costs are.”

“I am not in any way saying that special ed is costing us too much money,” Vibert said. “These students deserve these services. My concern is the government does not fund special ed properly.”

The state Department of Children and Families can relocate a student in the district at any time, and they can cost the district as much as $250,000, she said.

“There is no way to budget for that because we have no clue what’s going to happen,” she said.

Follow this link for the follow up story.

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Posted by on August 24, 2016 in Uncategorized


Florida application counters Solek’s denial; Updated with Follow Up Story on Solek Rescinding Application.

BRISTOL — Though Superintendent Ellen Solek has vehemently denied numerous times, including Sunday afternoon, that she is a candidate for the superintendent position in St. Johns County, Florida, her application, dated May 26, refutes that assertion.

“It is with great interest that I write to you regarding the vacant position of Superintendent of Schools for the School District of St. Johns County,” her application states.

“I am a passionate leader who possesses a strong belief system founded on honesty, integrity and the purposefulness in serving others,” her letter to the St. Johns school board continues. “I am proud of my long-standing reputation as an ethical leader who clearly understands that that fostering and maintaining renewing and rewarding relationships is at the core of who I am and what my mission is as an educational leader.”

When contacted Sunday, Solek again denied that she is a candidate for the position. Records from the St. Johns school district show that of the 21 applications received, she is one of nine being considered a finalist.

“It is what it is,” she said Sunday. “I am not a candidate for that position … All I will share with you is what I said to the school board, I am fully committed to Bristol public schools and Bristol public education.”

Emelia Hitchner, education reporter at The St. Augustine Record, said the ad for the job was posted, candidates were not sought out or recruited for the position.

“They put the ad online and whoever was interested actually applied. The applications were submitted,” she said. “She applied.”

Later, St. Johns County, Fla., released the resumes and applications for those who applied. Solek’s package, on her personal letterhead, was among them.

The school board will decide which finalists it will interview at its next meeting, Hitchner added.

“As an experienced school district leader, I work closely with the Board of Education and the town’s elected officials to successfully navigate through some very challenging economic conditions,” Solek said in her application.

“Genuine collaboration requires effective communication. I am a Superintendent who understands what it takes to clearly articulate information, to present a leadership vision in well-defined terms.”

Chris Wilson, president of the Bristol school board, said he was not totally surprised.

“We would view our superintendent looking for a job as a reflection of the quality of the staff and people in our district,” Wilson said.

“Superintendent jobs are very competitive. We expect this type of action to happen over time. We will deal with it. We have a strong supportive staff if she chooses to leave.”

Wilson said Solek has two years left on her three-year contract.

“If it came to it, we aren’t going to ask her to stay with us if she doesn’t want to stay here,” he said. “But until we’re told otherwise, she is our superintendent.”

Mayor Ken Cockayne said he and Solek work well together.

“She’s done an outstanding job as superintendent in Bristol and will be missed if she moves on,” he said. “She’s always been very accessible both not only for my office, but parents’ concerns.”

As for reasons she may be considering leaving Bristol, “that’s a good question,” said school board member Jeff Caggiano, deferring any further questions to board President Chris Wilson, who was not available Sunday.

Follow up Story Published August 22, 2016

BRISTOL — The city’s superintendent of schools, Ellen Solek, has rescinded her application for the top job in St. Johns County, Fla., school system.

While Michelle Dillon, president of the St. Johns Education Association, said Monday that Solek’s decision to pull the application could have happened as early as last week, neither she nor the 29 other members of the district’s search committee panel was notified until an email arrived Monday morning.

“It’s interesting that she pulled out and that she didn’t say anything like ‘I decided I want to stay with the great people of Bristol’ or anything,” Dillon said. “I don’t understand the denial.”

Solek, who repeatedly said she was never in contention for the job, was one of nine finalists, selected from 21 applicants from around the country, St. Johns County officials confirmed.

Solek finally confirmed Monday that she had applied for the position.

“I withdrew as a candidate August 9. It might not have been recorded until the next day or so, but I did withdraw,” she said. She chose not to elaborate on the reasons for her withdrawal.

“I’d rather not embellish on it,” she said. “I’m no longer a candidate.”

Solek applied for the job May 26. The finalists were announced by the school board and printed in the St. Augustine Record last week.

“On paper, it was a great application,” Dillon said. “Her résumé looks fan-tastic, and she was definitely one of the top contenders. I just don’t understand her reasoning.”

Bristol Board of Education President Chris Wilson said he doesn’t understand it either.

“I can’t even speculate,” he said Monday. “It doesn’t really concern me. People are always looking for better opportunities. If I were in her position, I would.”

As far as any official board position goes, Wilson said, members expect to move forward with plans for the coming academic year, with schools opening next week.

“It’s just status quo, working to get the schools open, make sure the buses run on time,” he said.

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Posted by on August 21, 2016 in Uncategorized


SBAC Scores Released

SBAC cores have been released, and show improvement over last year. Below are media story links.

Hartford Courant

Fox 61


CSDE Press Release

Use this link to compare district scores.


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Posted by on August 19, 2016 in Uncategorized


Updated: Newspaper reports Dr.Solek considering leaving Bristol; Superintendent Denies

Updated with 2 Bristol Press Articles Below

BRISTOL — Superintendent of Schools Ellen Solek is reportedly a semifinalist for the superintendent’s job in St. Johns County, Florida.

Chris Wilson, Board of Education chairman, had no comment about Solek’s potential departure or whether the board is preparing to search for her replacement. He said the average term of a superintendent in Bristol has been between three and five years. Solek has been here for four years.

A recent article in The St. Augustine Record reported the St. Johns County superintendent selection process is moving quicker than expected, with nine out of 21 applicants advancing into the semifinalist stage. Solek is listed as one of the semifinalists.

Judge John Alexander, chairman of the St. Johns County School Board’s citizens’ advisory committee on the superintendent candidates, was quoted as referring to the applicants as “nine superstars.”

The district is said to be conducting background checks on the applicants as the board members prepare to question the semifinalists during a workshop meeting. The start date for the St. Johns County position is reported as no later than January.

The district is reportedly one of the fastest growing in Florida, with about 36,000 K-12 students enrolled this year. Bristol’s public school student enrollment is about 8,200.

Solek came to Bristol as superintendent in July, 2012. She took over the job from Philip Streifer who left to take a position with the University of North Carolina Fayetteville. Solek moved to town from Hamden and was previously superintendent in East Haddam for five years.

She came on board just as the district was going through a period of extensive change. With the end of the 2011-12 school year, the district shut down four aging schools: Greene-Hills, Jennings, and O’Connell elementary schools, and Memorial Boulevard Middle School. The four joined Bingham Elementary School, which was shuttered in 2010.

They were replaced by the new West Bristol K-8 School at Clark Avenue and Matthews Street, and the new Greene-Hills K-8 School, built next to the old Greene-Hills, which was demolished.

The district went through an extensive citywide redistribution of students among the remaining elementary and middle schools as well as the new K-8s.

In the fall of 2014, the district also expanded its kindergarten program to full-day during her tenure.

Also in 2014, the board voted to extend her employment contract for two years, from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2017.

Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or

Article 2: August 19, 2016

BRISTOL — Superintendent of Schools Ellen Solek emphatically denies that she is seeking a superintendent’s job in St. Johns County, Florida.

At the Board of Education meeting Wednesday, she said, “I would like to state to the board unequivocally that I am not a candidate for a position in the state of Florida or any other state in the United States. I enjoy very much doing the work in support of the Board of Education and working with the highly talented district leadership team, administrators, faculty, and staff in this district.”

An article dated Aug. 9 in The St. Augustine Record newspaper reported the St. Johns County superintendent selection process has named nine semifinalists, with Solek listed as one of them.

After the meeting, she said, “I can’t speak to a newspaper in Florida publishing information,” however she wanted to make sure people are “very clear” that “I am very committed to this board, and I am committed to the district and I am committed to the community of Bristol.”

Solek came to Bristol as superintendent in July, 2012. Her current contract runs through the end of the 2017-18 school year.

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Posted by on August 16, 2016 in Uncategorized


Cigna Coverage

A new Cinga July 2016 Summary Update is available, which correctly lists co-pay amounts. Our insurance plan is not standard, and has several addendums, which can lead to confusion when claims are be being processed by Cigna employees.

If you have made repeated attempts to resolve a problem with a Cigna claim, but been unable to do so, please contact David Hayes via Groupwise ASAP.

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Posted by on August 8, 2016 in Uncategorized


Education and Politics: Fallout from AFT and RNC Conventions

This week both the American Federation of Teachers and the Republican National Committee held conventions. Here are some articles relating to their positions on education.

AFT Convention Coverage

From the American Prospect – Clinton Endorsement from AFT

From a local CBS station in Minnesota, with video – Clinton Education Platform

Article on AFT history and future vision

RNC Coverage

Forbes article on Trump targeting “Education Bureaucrats”

Washington Post article on Donald Trump Jr. trashing public education




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Posted by on July 22, 2016 in Uncategorized


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