School & Community Profile
Bristol Central High School is one of two public high schools serving the community of Bristol, CT. Bristol is an urban community located in the southwestern corner of Hartford County.
The population of Bristol is approximately 60,500 according to the 2013 census estimate. It has become an economically and racially diverse city which has seen a significant increase in minority populations over the past decade. According to the last census, the population of Bristol is 86% white, 9% Hispanic and 3.7% black. The population of Bristol Central is significantly more diverse than that of the city as a whole. The school community is 67% white, 20% Hispanic and 9% black. Approximately 3% of the student population are non English speaking.
Bristol’s median income of $58,814 ranks well below the state average of $69,591. In the 2014-15 school year 40.8% of the student population qualified for free or reduced lunch. This number has more than doubled since the last NEASC accreditation in 2004 and has had a significant impact on programs and services in the school.
Bristol’s largest taxpayer and employer is ESPN which accounts for 5.8% of the city’s total grand list. The city’s other large employers include the city of Bristol, Lake Compounce (seasonal) and Bristol Hospital. Long a city with a strong manufacturing base, Bristol’s workforce has transitioned to service and retail over the past two decades although a number of small spring manufacturers still have a strong presence in the community. The unemployment rate of 8.1% was slightly above the state average of 7.8% in 2013. The poverty rate of 9% is below the state average of 10%.
Enrollment at Central is currently 1,163. An additional 128 students attached to the school are enrolled in alternative, magnet or out placement facilities. In addition to Bristol Central, the Bristol School District includes Bristol Eastern High School with an enrollment of 1,254, two middle schools, two K-8 schools and six K-5 elementary schools. Chippens Hill Middle School and West Bristol and Greene-Hills K-8 schools are the primary feeder schools for Bristol Central. All three also serve Bristol Eastern. The total public school enrollment in the Bristol school district is 8,692. St. Paul Regional Catholic High School also serves the Bristol high school population and there are four K-8 parochial schools in the community.
The per pupil cost in the Bristol Public Schools in school year 2013-2014 was $13,220. State and Federal funding comprised of $56,806,689.75 of the Bristol Public Schools total budget of $104,285,960.00, leaving 45.5% of the budget to be paid by local taxpayers.
Funding for education comes primarily from local and state resources with federal supplements. The per-pupil expenditure is below the state average and has been for a few years. Bristol is classified by the Connecticut State Department of Education in District Reference Group (DRG) G which is the third lowest group in the state.
There are 97 teachers at Bristol Central High School creating a student to teacher ratio of 12 to 1. Teachers teach six classes, three each day, in an alternating day block schedule and carry a class load of approximately 100 students with an average class size of 16.5.
All students at BCHS are placed into one of three academic areas: Academic, Accelerated, or Advanced Placement. Students are eligible for college credit in AP courses as well as career-oriented college partnerships. The school has partnerships with Tunxis Community College, University of CT, and University of New Haven which allow students to earn college credit while in high school. In 2014 there were 184 Advanced Placement exams offered to 46% of the seniors in 15 different subject areas. 71% of the scores were at a “3” or higher. Approximately 19.7% of students receive special education services. All BCHS students are in an advisory group of approximately 12 students which meets biweekly with an adult mentor. Students remain in the same advisory group with the same staff person through their four years of high school.
BCHS students are required to take 25.25 credits to graduate. Students are required to take 4 credits in English, 3 in Mathematics, 3 in Social Studies, 2 in Science, 2 in Physical Education, .25 in Health, and 1 in Vocational/ Fine Arts, leaving 10 credits for electives.
The school offers academic and extracurricular programs designed to meet students’ unique learning and transitional needs, as well as future college and career interests. BCHS has a variety of programs to provide students with 21st Century skills through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses. Other college and career readiness partnerships include Tunxis and UCONN through Family and Consumer Science and Business programs. Furthermore, students can elect to take courses in the Visual and Performing Arts to enrich their learning experience at BCHS.
All freshmen are placed in freshmen teams to provide transitional support and accountability during their first year in high school to help ensure the highest degree of success possible. The school also offers an AVID program designed to assist traditionally underrepresented groups transition into a four-year university setting.
Extracurricular activities engage 55% percent of students in a variety of sports and enrichment or school community based groups. There are 28 enrichment or community based groups including performing arts, academic enrichment, career, and student engagement groups. These groups are facilitated by one, or in some cases, multiple dedicated BCHS staff members. There are 21 different varsity athletic programs offered with many sports supported by both staff and volunteer coaches.
For the Bristol Central class of 2014, 50% of the 295 students attended a 4-year college, 12% a 2-year college, 10% a vocational technical school, and 2% military. Graduates of BCHS were accepted to competitive schools in 2014 including the U.S. Military Academy, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, Amherst, Boston College, Carnegie Mellon and Dartmouth. A large population chose to enroll in the Connecticut University System. The school’s average SAT scores were 513 in Critical Reading, 518 in Math and 499 in Writing in 2014.
In addition, Bristol offers continuing adult education and students may enroll in the Bristol Technical Education Center which offers courses in culinary, HVAC, auto tech, manufacturing technology, welding and metal fabrication and electronics technology either during their last two years of high school or as post graduates.
Students are recognized for their accomplishments through a variety of programs including the Ram Strong program which recognizes students for their adherence to the school motto of Be Creative, Be Committed, Be Collaborative, Be Conscientious. Both staff and students are able to nominate students to earn one of these awards. In the first half of the 2014-15 school year approximately 200 students earned a Ram Strong Award. Students are recognized for academic achievement through the honor roll and principal’s commendation breakfasts. The Maroon and White Scholarships, funded by staff contributions, are awarded to students in a variety of areas each spring. The Signatures publication recognizes outstanding student writing annually. There are numerous opportunities throughout the year for students to be recognized for achievement in athletics, performing and visual arts.