Board Leader Weighs In On Aresta Johnson’s Departure As School Chief

File photo: school board chairman John Weldon, right, looks on as school chief Aresta John addresses City Council budget committee.

OIB asked Board of Education Chair John Weldon for his thoughts on Superintendent of Schools Aresta Johnson’s decision to leave the district. She has taken a position with the University of Bridgeport. His comments follow:

Dr. Johnson’s departure was not surprising to me. From the onset, she always indicated she had no intention of being the Superintendent for more than one contract cycle and, on average, Superintendents across the country don’t stay more than 2-1/2 years in one school district. When Dr. Johnson notified the Board she would not seek another contract, or an extension, I sensed the clock was ticking and that she may very well not even finish her final year. Unfortunately, as Fran Rabinowitz points out in her commentary, that sort of short-term leadership turnover creates a sense of organizational instability among the employee base which, in turn, affects morale–and it’s no different here in Bridgeport. I am hopeful we’ll be able to find a permanent Superintendent who can bring the sense of stability that the District needs.

Aside from that, I will acknowledge that it is difficult for any chief executive (regardless of the type of organization) to juggle the diverse personalities and needs of individual board members. However, I don’t think the stress of that drove Dr. Johnson to move on to the next chapter in her career. Nor do I think her move stemmed from any difficulties related to staffing shortages or budget deficits. Rather, as the final year of her contract was progressing, I think her move was a result of her deciding that there were other opportunities she wanted to pursue, particularly at the collegiate level, which I think would be the next logical step in her career.

It should be understood that there is a group of people who are, for lack of a better term, “professional superintendents.” They travel the country, taking on superintendent positions in various districts with various challenges, and that is where they derive their professional satisfaction. However, I never had the impression that Dr. Johnson was one of those people, or that she aspired to be one of them. Rather, I think she considered her time as Superintendent as a stage/experience that she wanted as part of a larger career plan she has which, quite possibly, could include an ambition on her part to be a university dean or president somewhere, someday. That is only speculation on my part and, having said that, only Dr. Johnson knows what her ultimate plan is. Whatever it is, I wish her the best in her future endeavors, wherever they may take her.

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11 comments

  1. Not quite sure why John Weldon’s speculation on former Superintendent Johnson’s career planning is front and center as a news event, but, it is Bridgeport. If the topic is education, what is the budget plan for the 2019-20 Fiscal year? What is Weldon’s speculation on how Mayor Ganim will approach an election with a BOE and families of 20,000 school age youth have no certainty that a full school year is not only possible but likely? What is the state of communication between the Mayor’s Office and the Acting Superintendent Mike Testani?What is the latest word from his Finance Committee? Is there any good news to report to the public? Time will tell.

  2. John Weldon is simply outrageous for writing this.

    Dr. Johnson had a strictly professional relationship with John Weldon and she had no personal relationship with him.

    She wanted to be in Bridgeport with our kids. She was 100% committed to their emotional, social, and academic well being

    The position of Superintendent was not a stepping stone for future ambitions.

    Dr. Johnson deplored John Weldon for his constant micro-management of her calling her as many as 9 times a day.

    I am going to post here what I posted under Fran Rabinowitz’ statement.

    STFU!

  3. Instead of wasting your time on writing your “opinion” about why Dr. Johnson resigned, why don’t you focus on scheduling meetings to close the remaining $5.5 million dollar budget gap for 2019/2020?

    It is July 12, 2019 and we STILL DO NOT HAVE ANYWHERE NEAR A BALANCED BUDGET!

    This has only happened under John Weldon’s leadership, or lack thereof, as BOE Chair and Jessica Martinez as Finance Chair.

  4. Ron, it wasn’t necessary and it was done to call into to question this educated Black woman’s motives, commitment, character and integrity which he hasn’t a clue into what the future plans of Dr. Johnson were or are. This was just a cheap shot at a Black woman in an attempt to color her time as Superintendent in a negative light. John Weldon is a Ganim/Testa disciple and we’ve come to expect no class and low class from said individuals.

  5. This should have been Weldons first sentence but, he put it in the final paragraph. He would have saved readers from wasting their time on his worthless opinion…. “That is only speculation on my part and, having said that, only Dr. Johnson knows what her ultimate plan is. “

  6. What an absolutely outrageous regurgitation of excrement! John Weldon is totally full of shit! The only reason that Mr. Weldon wasn’t surprised by Dr. Johnson’s departure was because he worked so hard to make her tenure miserable. He orchestrated this! He is an absolute control freak who will stop at nothing to silence those who oppose him, even to the detriment of those he was elected to serve!

    From private conversations I had with Dr. Johnson, I know unequivocally that she would have remained in Bridgeport indefinitely, as long as she were helping children. Mr. Weldon’s assertion that Dr. Johnson was using her position as career stepping-stone is a disgusting effort of a guilty little man attempting to whitewash his own blameworthiness by befouling the reputation and motives of his better!

    Shame!

  7. My goodness. Such negative passion towards Weldon by past & present BOE members. The Bridgeport leadership eats it’s Superintendents of quality. Paul Vallas burned him self up in our City & Philadelphia, New Orleans & finally in his overreach in Chicago ambitions. Dr. Johnson succumbed to pressures she finally felt to be unnecessary in her life. May she find happiness coming to work each day in her future positions.

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