Cisco Borres, the Republican deputy Registrar of Voters, addressed the school board committee Tuesday night about the proposal to replace Harding High School. He is also a parent who lives in the Harding school district.
My name is Cisco Borres. I’m a state Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commissioner, the Vice-Chair of the Bridgeport Republican Town Committee and the President of the Mill Hill NRZ. That being said, I’m not speaking on behalf of any of those organizations tonight. I’m here to speak as a parent of a Bridgeport public school student living in the Harding district of the city and that is what is most relevant and most significant to tonight’s meeting. I’m concerned that we are in danger of losing an opportunity to better the educational potential of our kids, and worse yet for the sake of a political vendetta.
I think it is clear to all of us that the need for better facilities is desperately required. We have an opportunity to provide the children of the East Side and East End with a state-of-the-art environment that will increase the education potential of our kids. We should of course take advantage of a prime piece of land donated to the city by GE to build this school.
The Bridgeport taxpayers who are too often overlooked should also be taken into account when the decision of whether or not to delay this project is made. The State/Federal government is currently offering grant money that is expected to cover 80% of the cost of the building. The city has already been granted two extensions for this grant money and will lose access to this funding if those proposing to delay the project are allowed to do so. A delay at this time would put the burden of upgrading Harding directly on the shoulders of the already overtaxed people of Bridgeport.
Do we really believe that GE, an international mega-company, and the Federal DEEP, who will have to sign off on the land, are going to risk their respective reputations by putting children in a toxic environment? There are written statements everywhere that GE will bring the remediation of the land to “residential standards.”
Do we really believe that there is even a shred of possibility that the new Harding High School will be more contaminated than the 100+-year-old building that is currently in use? The old Harding was built before the existence of the DEP when coal-fired furnaces were the norm.
Carmen Lopez stated that the city has been working behind closed doors to sneak this through, however, as president of the Mill Hill NRZ I can state with confidence that the city (in this case) has been happy to answer any questions that our membership has had. As a matter of fact Jorge Garcia came to one of our meetings and gave a full presentation about a year ago in order to keep the neighborhood in the loop. I would even go as far as to say that the new school facilities will alleviate some of the needs that the NRZ has stated in our strategic plan.
I believe that some of those who are attempting to delay this plan are doing so for the sake of political vendettas that stem back to the previous board and the current city administration. Although I acknowledge the past indiscretions and secretive nature of the current administration, it’s sad that this would take precedence over the educational needs and safety of our kids or the responsibility to our citizens. Coming on the heels of trying to remove the police department from school security I’m losing confidence in and questioning the motives of certain members of the BOE.