Mayor Bill Finch kicked off his school reform listening tour Wednesday at Cesar Batalla School.
A few audience members took the opportunity to praise Interim Schools Superintendent Paul Vallas, recruited in 2011 by state Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor to right the struggling Bridgeport district.
It’s awkward because the board that hired Vallas was appointed as part of an emergency state takeover of the elected board that Finch helped orchestrate. That controversial action was later thrown out by the state Supreme Court. Finch last year unsuccessfully tried to convince voters to change the charter and again make the board an appointed body.
“I believe if we take good care of him (Vallas) he’ll be here for several years,” Finch told his audience Wednesday.
After the forum at Cesar Batalla ended I asked the mayor if he is confident the elected school board will grant Vallas another year.
“I don’t think there’s any question but I am concerned about some of the mistreatment he gets … from the board,” Finch said. “He’s a lot smarter than they are and they ought to let him do his job.”
“Look, we’ve got a national celebrity here,” the mayor added, and it would be foolish to lose Vallas.