Education Matters

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Vallas foes and supporters tell BOE what they think anyway.

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Sign held by some members of the Bridgeport BOE audience

BRIDGEPORT – The city school board agreed to form a subcommittee to start working on the groundwork for superintendent search even as it works to evaluate the superintendent it has now.

The 5-4 vote — with Chairman Jacqueline Kelleher siding with board members Bobby Simmons, Sauda Baraka, Maria Pereira and John Bagley — came after the board voted unanimously to table an agenda item to extend Interim School Superintendent Paul Vallas’ contract.

The board is still in the process of evaluating Vallas and he is scheduled to make a presentation to the board on Wednesday on his accomplishments.

Board member Hernan Illingworth called it irresponsible to put the extension on the agenda when the board hasn’t finished the evaluation.

“We laid out a process. Let’s honor the process,” he said, still disappointed that the board decided a week earlier not to let the public weigh in on the evaluation.

Pereira wanted to know how the contract extension even got on the agenda.

Kelleher said two board members – she didn’t name them — requested it be put on the agenda. She also said the board originally said it wanted to handle the item in January.

Kelleher said she spoke with both Commissioner Stefan Pryor and his chief of staff Adam Goldfarb to clarify a state law passed in June 2012 that gives the commissioner a say in the selection of the district’s next superintendent. In exchange for a $3.5 million loan to balance the district’s cash-starved 2011-12 budget, the new law requires the board to win approval of its three superintendent finalists from the commissioner and get his feedback. The board then gets to pick from among the three approved finalists.

Kelleher, however, said Pryor said the board could extend Vallas contract without going through the process. She said the commissioner granted Vallas special certification to serve as superintendent through 2013.

Kelleher was promised a letter from the state Board of Education to that effect by the end of the week.

Pereira said that is not the way the special act reads and cautioned against taking advise from the state Department of Education.

“The law is clear. The last time we tried that we ended up in Supreme Court,” said Pereira. She favored setting up a subcommittee to start the process, to have it in place.

It is expected that hiring a search firm for a new superintendent, if the board does, could cost as much as $58,000.

“My sense is we need a subcommittee,” said Kelleher.

Meanwhile, members of the audience seemed clearly divided into two camps over the issue.

Like Pereira, Carmen Lopez reminded the board that not all legal opinions they get are correct. The one that led to the state takeover of the board was ultimately overturned.

Lopez told the board said they should be considering the termination of Vallas’ contract, not an extension. She also said in her reading of state law, the waiver Vallas receives can’t extend past a year and requires him to get special training. “I don’t know that Mr. Vallas has been attending any training,” she said.

Others said they want Vallas to stay.

Ondrea Moore, the district PAC leader, said she has high regards for Vallas and said signs in the audience calling for his removal hurt.

Clyde Nicholson said in his opinion, Vallas was robbing the district.

Gerry Claytor told the board even though Vallas inherited a mess, he has given her hope.

Jehan Raheem said the district needed a superintendent from Connecticut, not Chicago, Philadelphia or New Orleans, three other districts where Vallas served before he was recruited by the state appointed school board in December 2011.

Parent Jessica Martinez said nothing matters to her but the education of her third grade daughter and she applauds what she has seen since Vallas arrived. She said he responded when Marin school needed an extra teachers aid and is getting security cameras repaired.

“You can’t expect miracles in six months,” she said, adding she doesn’t care how much Vallas makes.

Categories: General
Linda Lambeck

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11 Responses

  1. percy says:

    To Miss Fix it Now who hasn’t a clue on how hard PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS WORK AND STAND UP FOR ONE ANOTHER unlike Naive Followers that work in the Charter School system. You should read more carefully what I said, ” some of the REAL CHALLENGES that the public school teachers endure everyday.” What’s the matter? Are you jealous of the Public School teacher’s hours and days that they work? No! You get a clue! Better yet, get a real teaching job! Work in the public school system for just one year and let’s see what you say then! Then, tell us about how hard you really workl! So, where is your Charter school union? Tsk! Tsk! Why don’t you go in at 7:00 AM on Sundays? Maybe someone will recognize your — kissing and give you a raise and a big promotion to say ,$40,000 a year. Too bad! You couldn’t cut it with the public school teachers anyway They’d have to teach you how to teach!

  2. FixTheSchoolsNOW says:

    Man, Percy you sure are dense. Now, you’re criticizing hardworking teachers and a positive school culture? What do you think helps schools improve? Please stop embarrassing yourself and get a clue.

  3. percy says:

    Miss Fixitnow,
    So, while you are teaching at the Achievement First Academy,(tee hee), I mean trying to cover up your discipline problems and make things look all nice and neat, while you have detention from 4:00 to 5:00, are you still chanting to Pride Rock in the gymnasium? Wow! Sounds like a cult to us. Our sources that have substituted there have spilled the beans. What’s the matter? You can’t take it that everyone is going to sit abck and have a good laugh while your test scores go to the toilet bowl this year after you get some of the REAL CHALLENGES that the public school teachers endure everyday. Got it! So, when are you going to start working on Sundays? You already work 6 days a week. Where’s your union? Ha Ha!

  4. FixTheSchoolsNOW says:

    Percy Smith: Please do us all a favor and learn how to write proper English before you attempt your hand at a rebuttal. You said state law prohibits public charter schools from accepting special needs students?? Get a clue my friend. There is no such state law on the books. You know why? Because there is such a thing called the Connecticut Constitution which mandates ALL public schools serve ALL students. Your lack of education on this topic is embarrassing. And you clearly know nothing of Achievement First Bridgeport Academy. Their students are outperforming students in Fairfield Public Schools. Let me put that in terms you can understand: Kids from the so-called ghetto in Bridgeport are doing better academically than their peers in a rich suburb. Get it? No other school in Bridgeport is doing that great with the exception of the magnet schools. Inform yourself before you start spewing nonsense.

  5. percy says:

    Next year, the CHARTER SCHOOLS will HAVE TO TAKE ALL STUDENTS. NOT JUST THEIR HAND PICKED ONES WHG HAVE PARENTS WORKING WITH FIXITNOW! THIS will include the ESL, SPECIAL NEEDS AND THE GRAND FINALE OFC THEM ALL, THE BEHAVIORALLY CHALLENGED! So, get ready for the CHARTER SCHOOL SCORES TO PLUMMET ALL THE WAY DOWEN LIKE OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS! Guess what! Achievement First had detention every day after school and on Saturday mornings! How abou that!Those kids have some of the worst behavior hidden form the public because we want everyone ot think their miracle workers! Wait until the next lottery! Your kids will all be sitting next to a neighbor form the public schools! Perhaps, people that don’t care about the BOE salaries should start paying the highest property taxes in the nation and then they would understand! Don;t forget to tell the parents to read a book to their children and stop using hte video games as a babysitter! Alos, feed your kids and dress them warmly! My kid’s teachers are awesome! They need to make much more money than they get now. All they get is bashed by people like you! Sit in theri classrooms and see what they deal with because of many lazy parents that don’t work with their children. Don’t get me wrong! Many parents work with their children! But, the other percentage never even pick up a book or take their kids to the library! BEcome a real parent and teach your child at home!

  6. percy smith says:

    Sad news for Fix It Now, Miss Martinez,and Jmar!
    You don’t knwo anything about Achievement First! Their kids are not learning anything more than the public schools. FYI, many chidren of our friends went there and pulled their kids out because they were BORED! The teachers are teaching at a LOW, LOW, Level! They have Detention every night after school and Saturday morning detention as well! Hee Hee! Where are the miracles happening?
    By the way, in the fall, CT State Law prohibits any child whether they have special needs, Engish as a Second language, or behavior or discipline problems from going to the CHARTER SCHOOLS! so, let’ssee how they do nbext year when they have all of the problems that the pUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS have. My, MY,MY! Let’s see what you have to say then. The PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS in my children’s school work their ____ off! By the way, they still have ot buy their own pencils and paper. SO, get your facts straight! What really needs to happen is the LAZY PARENTS, not the good ones, have to get off their A_____ and read a book with their kids instead of putting a video game in their kid’s hand as their babysitter! This is whats going on! The rest is all a crock of _____! As fo the people that don’t pay Bridgeport taxes, of course you don’t care about the salaries of the BOE! Do you pay Bridgeport taxes? Tell the truth!

  7. Jmar says:

    You are very right Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson. All parents and community members should do their homework!! What people are not understanding is that ALL of the children in BPT are being left behind, we are labeled and set up for failure. Again, I am not a Vallas cheerleader, however, WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?!?! Before Vallas the schools have been failing, before Vallas there were NO text books, before Vallas there was no paper and teachers were purchasing supplies with their own money. So what are we really saying here. I do my homework, as a mater of fact I work in the community everyday, with parents, children, teachers, principals, home school coord., baseball and basketbal programs, and along side Mr. Vallas himself. I have seen him in action doing his JOB that he didn’t ask for. So many people have opinions but their not standing up and doing the work, providing solutions. It’s about the CHILDREN, who cares about Paul Vallas if he is doing his job. If he is “not” doing his job then let’s hold him and the BOE accountable. My opinion is that too many people are politicians and focused on the WRONG things. Put aside your personal differences and let’s create change and keep the focus on the CHILDREN!!! I have a lot more to learn as a Parent, Resident, Community Organizer but I’m really not sure what is expected in 6 months that hasn’t happened in Bridgeport for 30 years. Has anyone walked in Achievement First?!?! Please as a parent I urge you to go to visitors day. That charter school is AMAZING! The same kids from the hood are learning and will have a future!! I have so much more to say but I’m done. I’m not fighting for Vallas I’m fighting for the children. Wake up people!!!!!!!!

  8. Mark & Reva Stevenson says:

    You all keep talking about all that he has done…what has he done??? Fixed your cameras, added aids to classes?? Maybe in the school that your child attends but what about the other schools and children? It does not take 6 months to make sure that every child has books,it does not take 6 months to hire security guards,or fix doors that will secure the buildings our children learn in, or supply needed school supplies for the teacher. You have teachers complaining that they don’t even have paper! Mr Vallas is also pro-charter schools, which by the way takes $$ from public schools. Also know that entry is based on Lottery, so some children “will be left behind” so what happens then? This child will be faced to attend public schools that are not up to par? Do your homework people just as we have before start giving the praise. Before you start praising Mr. Vallas for all that he has done, take a look at what he has not done the scale on the side of what has not been done is much heavier.

  9. Jessica Martinez says:

    Excuse my typos,I didn’t proof read!

  10. Jessica Martinez says:

    Linda, I have a son not a daughter in the school system. I am fighting for ALL children and no it doesn’t matter what Mr. Vallas gets paid if we are getting results. Thes BOE meetings turn into personal vedettas and focuses shift constantly! Our focus should be, How are we going to close the achievement gap? How are we going to minimize the dropout rat? What options can we create for our children? How can we empower parents to help their children further their education? How could be make the schools safer? How can we get more parents involved? How can we help the schools, district, city? How can we keep a budjet balanced and not spend money on nonsense? I could go on and on but we should not be spending over an hour on nonsense. I am not here to be Mr. Vallas’ cheerleader, the children are my concern. But please note he didn’t ask to be here he was sought out to be here. Let’s face it, if serious chages don’t happen swiftly we are in serious trouble. There are NO other solutions, so yes, I applaud Mr. Vallas for doing all that he has done since he has got here.

  11. FixTheSchoolsNOW says:

    These people who want Vallas out are out of their minds. They are using the same signs with the same font that they used when they were protesting Ramos. Just like this sign, those signs said “Ramos Must Go!!” All they did was swap out the name on top. Check the CT Post picture archives from 2009 if you don’t believe me. And they will switch out Vallas’s name and put the next supt.’s name on the next sign. A question the CT Post should try to answer is who is making these signs? These signs are all the same. Not a homemade batch. I wonder if the Working Families Party paid for these signs? These protesting people don’t want progress. They are an anti-progress group. They want to keep Bridgeport schools stuck in the mud. They want Bridgeport schools to continue to be a statewide embarrassment. All they do is complain, complain, complain about the same problems. They never have any solutions to the problems. Note to anti-progress crowd: Move on and let the people trying to fix this system do their work. You harm the children and their future with your antics.