OIB essayist John Marshall Lee who badgers, prods, pokes public officials to eat their OATs (open, accountable, transparent) has focused his X-ray vision on Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas. General Lee likes what he sees and shares a link to a Vallas letter that, interestingly, does not place blame for the school system’s ”chronic financial distress” on unions. Vallas’ letter sets forth problems and solutions. Check out Lee’s thoughts and link to Vallas letter:
I had not gone to the Bridgeport Public Schools website in some time. Today I was pleasantly surprised to see this letter summarizing what Paul Vallas sees as progress towards the goal of turning the Bridgeport educational system around rapidly and with sustainability. Incidentally, while folks are at the site, they may look at the Budget Allocation model, ECS info and other program info that are posted.
You know I have been a long-term and frequent supporter of OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE and TRANSPARENT in City governance. It has taken a long time to see any progress on the City side, unfortunately. The type of information I see posted recently is an example of disclosure that is full of information for different stakeholders who may have different interests in Bridgeport’s education system. Had there been more of this type of info offered to the public in the past through available technology, perhaps some of the frustrations and anger could have been avoided.
I understand the BOE books for 2011-12 will definitely show a balanced budget when they are closed for delivery to the auditors on August 31. It is likely this information, providing line-item detail for 12 months, will be useful in comparing and contrasting the “turnaround funding through June 30, 2012″ with what was happening previously. Going forward, regular monthly reporting using MUNIS information will be available and include reports of actual numbers of employees in departments. There will also be reporting details on Grant Funds that come to education including details that show numbers of grant employees and the programs funded for the City education effort. These details have not been routinely available through the City Clerk’s office to the public. Providing such a full view into the infrastructure, by location, and showing how components become available to encourage local school initiatives and parent involvement activities is powerful support of OATs to me and I hope to others. Finally, I expect we shall get to see some scoreboards to keep us sport fans interested in seeing progress over the next few years to the metrics that will tell us whether the resources, the people and the funds have provided necessary gains to the young people. However, the info provided so far allows the curious as well as those who are professional educators to drill down, explore the data and pursue questions that are more directed to understanding than to feeding frustration. This is progress and proof that time will tell.