Yes, Bridgeport BOE will still keep talking when staff and audience walk out.

BRIDGEPORT — The city school board started off Monday debating whether Supt. of Schools Paul Vallas needed board permission to accompany the mayor on his school listening tour  –for nearly an hour.

It discussed whether the superintendent should address the concerns of every public speaker or just some of them.

It voted to rearrange the agenda and discussed if meeting minutes posted on line should be transcripts or summaries.

It also decided to refer to committee the nomination of Dunbar School as state Commissioner’s Network School. (The school is already in the running). Three hours into the city school board meeting Monday, and the panel still had not gotten to the heart of their agenda, which included a request to approve $200,000 in grants to help facilitate the opening of the districts new high schools and a report on staff absenses. The audience was dwindling. So Vallas and much of his staff got up and left (they did not “storm”, just left). Vallas said as he left that he wasn’t going to make reports if there was no one there to listen.

The seven school board members still in attendance carried on, and eventually approved the $200,000 grant from Good Schools BPT, a foundation with anonymous donors, to provide start up materials and orientation sessions for the new First Responders High School and multi-magnet high schools, but only after a dizzying series of motions. Board members Sauda Baraka, Maria Pereira, Bobby Simmons and John Bagley, all said they had questions they wanted answered and without staff there to answer them were reluctant to approve the grant. Board member Kenneth Moales said it would be going down a dangerous path for the board to turn down money it needed.

“Who else will give us money,” Moales asked. In the end they voted to approve the grant 6 to 1 with Pereira voting no.

Simmons said he didn’t recall staff ever walking out en mass from Boe meeting.

Baraka said it showed lack of respect. She also said she was concerned by a reoccuring thread that seems to be flowing through board meetings that the newly-restored elected panel is not taking care of business.

“We have moved a lot of action since we have been on board,” said Baraka. “Conversation is what we do.”

Baraka said the pace of the meetings is due more to the number of items on the agenda, and two months of single meetings instead of double, that have caused the late nights, not questions from her or others.

  The board then debated whether to refer the question of staff attendance at meetings to the policy committee for quite a while. By then, there were only six members present and the motion passed. The meeting which started before 6 p.m., ended just before 11 p.m.

Linda Lambeck