Senator Kissel Announces Approval of Land Acquisition for Agriscience Center

June 28, 2007

State budget allows for the expansion of Suffield’s Regional Vo-Ag Program

State Senator John A. Kissel (R-Enfield) announced today that a provision included in the recently adopted two-year state budget gives approval to the Suffield Regional Agriscience Center’s plan to acquire an additional 10-acres of land that will go towards the creation of a large animal facility and pasture area on property located adjacent to Suffield High School. According to Sen. Kissel, a waiver to exceed acreage limitations of the purchase of the land was necessary since the state’s School Facilities Committee had already approved the purchase of the 43 acres for the construction of the High School that was built in 2002.

“This is really good news for the eight towns in the region that the Agriscience Center serves,” said Sen. Kissel who brought state and local officials together to hammer out an agreement on the waiver. “The expansion of this facility will undoubtedly mean that more students will have access to a state-of-the-art Vocational Agricultural (Vo-Ag) education.”

Sen. Kissel said that in 2002 the Dept. of Education approved nearly $5 million for expansion of the Agriscience Center that included funding for a large animal barn, greenhouse and purchase of equipment. Included in the funding was approximately $370,000 for the purchase of an additional 10-acre parcel for the creation of a “land laboratory.” The current owners of the land have now made the property available to the town, however due to the construction of the high school; the town has exceeded the state standard space specifications. Through the waiver granted in the budget, funding for the project will be released and the expansion of the Agriscience Center can begin.

“I am very thankful to the Department of Education, the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management
Bob Genuraio, Suffield school officials, Rep. Ruth Fahrbach (R-Windsor) and Sen. Thomas Gaffey (D-Meriden). ” said Sen. Kissel. “It shows what can happen when state and local officials work together. Without this portion of funding the expansion of the Vo-Ag Center would have been jeopardized. The state recognized this, and when you add in that enrollment has grown beyond anyone’s expectations and that the town was getting an extremely good deal on the property, it made the case for the waiver that much stronger.”

Under Connecticut state law, applicants for school building projects can exceed the state standard space specifications solely as a result of “extraordinary programmatic needs.” Sen. Kissel said that this project falls into that category because of the increased enrollment at the high school. In 2002, when the new Suffield High School was constructed, the anticipated average enrollment was approximately 735 students. When the school year began last September there were nearly 900 students attending the school.

Since 1965, the Agriscience Center has served the towns of Avon, Canton East Granby, Enfield, Granby, Simsbury, Windsor Locks and Suffield.