Governor’s Budget Destroys After-school Programs

Papa, Hennessy
File photo of State Rep. Jack Hennessy saluting the work of Tammy Papa.

Bridgeport Director of Youth Services Tammy Papa on Tuesday told the state legislature’s Elementary and Secondary Education Appropriations Subcommittee that Governor Dan Malloy’s budget proposal will cripple after-school programs for thousands of kids.

Papa’s prepared testimony:

Good evening. My name is Tammy Papa and I am the Director of Youth Services for the City of Bridgeport. Our department administers the Lighthouse Before School, After School and Summer Program as well as the Youth Service Bureau and Enhancement Grant programs.

On behalf of our partner agencies and the children and families we serve with the above funds, I would like to thank Senators Slossberg and Somers as well as Representative Rosario and members of the Elementary and Secondary Education Appropriations Subcommittee for the opportunity to submit testimony to you today in support of after school and youth service bureau funding. Now more than ever, the after school community of teachers, paraprofessionals, school administrators, parents, children, and social service organizations need your support in restoring full funding and keeping all three line items as they currently exist in the state budget. Doing so will ensure that at a minimum, the current number of children receiving services will continue to do so. This of course is far from the expectation that we would be in a position to ask for the additional allocation so desperately needed.

Below please find a few facts about Bridgeport’s Lighthouse Program, which relies on this funding to meet the needs of its students and is currently the state’s largest provider of after-school services.

Lighthouse After School and Summer Program Statistics
Bridgeport, Connecticut

History: Partnership that began in 1993 between the City of Bridgeport, Board of Education, and numerous faith and community based organizations, as well as institutions of higher education. The program is nationally recognized for excellence.

Serving: Roughly 2,600 Bridgeport children in grades Pre-K through grade 8 during the school year from 3:00 – 5:30 p.m. daily and 2,400 during the summer for five weeks from 8:30 – 5:30 p.m. daily. Programs take place in 24 public schools. Of the 339 parent surveys returned, 47% are single parent households, 51% have earned a high school diploma, and 73.5% report household incomes of less than $40,000 evidence that socio-economic conditions in Bridgeport continue to fall well below state and national averages.

Offerings: Includes healthy snack, homework/tutorial session, curriculum based activities, recreation, sports, computer and video technology, arts and crafts, educational board games, music, dance, drama, drumming, poetry, and so much more.

Percent of Public School Student Population Served: Approximately 12% for the 2016-2017 school year.

Lighthouse Revenue History:
Impact of Eliminated/Reduced State Funding in 2017-2018 on After School:

Currently, nine after school and summer locations receive state funding. This equates to approximately 40% of our sites overall and roughly 1,200 children. Should state after school funding be eliminated, the city would have no choice but to close after school and summer locations leaving a minimum of 1,000 children without access to safe, affordable quality programs. Inevitably this has an economic impact on Bridgeport as well. Parents would need to decide whether to quit their jobs and care for their children or continue to work and leave them home unattended.

Evaluation Findings:

Yale 4-year study shows academic growth, higher expectations of success, socially acceptable behavior, and a lower body mass index among participants when compared to children in parent, family or self care during after-school hours.

MRM evaluation 2014-15 shows 84% of students surveyed and 95% of parents surveyed are generally satisfied with the program with 97% of parents and 89% of students noting the program is safe. Principals and site coordinators note homework help/academic support as well as a safe, supportive and nurturing environment to be the two highest factors contributing to a successful program.

Impact of Eliminated/Reduced Youth Service Bureau and Enhancement Funding in 2017-2018:

Currently, the city sub contracts YSB and YSB Enhancement funding out to a total of 13 social service agencies providing a wide range of services to youth and families. Such services include mentoring, parenting classes, reentry and juvenile justice programs, after school activities, college prep services, crisis intervention, pre-k nutrition, pregnancy prevention, and arts programs reaching approximately 1,500 youth each year. Should this funding source be eliminated or combined with the school based youth diversion program, social service agencies, which are at capacity and looking for additional funds, will be eliminated from the equation and forced to downsize the very programs they are looking to expand in an effort to meet the growing need.

I sincerely ask you consider the impact these cuts will have on Connecticut families and urge you to reject the Governor’s recommended budget with respect to the above line items. Thank you for your time.



    1. Andrew C Fardy,
      If you took an accurate census of the children in the Lighthouse programs, you would find many who are not citizens.

      Bridgeport Public Schools are loaded with non-citizens. Being a non-citizen does not equal illegal.

  1. Tammy Papa was signed up and called upon to testify at the Appropriations Hearing yesterday. She either left early or was a no-show.

    We requested her presence at two Finance Committee meetings last year and she failed to attend either, therefore we moved forward without her involvement.

    The Lighthouse Program has been operating in our schools for over 20 years and it has never paid rent, contributed towards a single utility, refuse/recycling costs, nor paid towards custodial or security costs.

    Mayor Finch had a $110,000 a year employee and Mayor Ganim had Gina Malheiro at $100,000 year hidden in her grants. Neither had one thing to do with Lighthouse. They were making more than Tammy Papa who is the director.

    Last year the BOE conducted a cost analysis that showed that based on our school facility usage policies Lighthouse should be paying the Board over $3,000,0000 annually. We informed Tammy Papa the Lighthouse Program would have to pay us $500,000 this year.

    As of January she has paid us zero. I have now received credible information she is refusing to pay.

    Tammy Papa is a very close personal and intimate friend of Ganim 1, and she is closely tied to a high-level appointee of Ganim. Mario Testa also tried to influence a current BOE member with potential employment and specifically brought up Tammy Papa during this conversation.

    Who gets to use 22 school buildings for over 20 years without paying one dollar? This program uses 8 of our air-conditioned school buildings for 5 weeks in the summer without paying a single dollar.

    Enough is enough. The Lighthouse needs to pay reasonable costs associated with this city program, or the program needs to be moved out of our public school buildings.

    She also gave herself a $15,000 raise several years ago.

    In addition, the Board funds two schools’ Lighthouse Programs 100% out of a grant, and we found out last May Tammy Papa has been collecting the parent dues and keeping the funds to “reinvest” in the Lighthouse Program. How do we pay 100% of the costs and the parent dues are not going into the BOE budget?

    My daughter attended the program for one year at Roosevelt School. Every time I went to pick her up the kids were just running around the gym like crazy, her homework was never done, and she disliked it because she was being bullied.

    Another Board member stated her grandchildren were receiving assistance with their homework and the parents told Lighthouse staff to stop because the children’s homework was repeatedly incorrect.

    Some schools have excellent programs and some are poor, it is very spotty.

  2. The Lighthouse program has not been without its problems, but overall it has proven to be a highly cost-effective program that has been of great benefit to thousands of kids for almost 25 years.

    I know several employees, working at various levels of the program, who can only be described as highly motivated and hard-working, as well as highly-effective. I know many young people/families who have benefited greatly from the program.

    The Lighthouse Program has proven to be a great programmatic synergy to the Bridgeport Public school system and should be supported by the BOE.

    The Bridgeport GA delegation should fight hard to maintain funding for this program in the face of the other Malloy/GA budget idiocy going on during this session (per usual).

    Some thought should be given now, by all concerned, about vital, summer youth programs needed to keep Bridgeport kids safe.

    Tax alcohol at indicated rates (to recoup the 10% of the state budget spent on alcohol-abuse related items) and there will be enough $ to fund the Bridgeport BOE budget shortfall as well as keep the Lighthouse Program available to all who need it.


Leave a Reply