Harding Hi Or Bye? School Board Jeopardizes Funds For New High School

new Harding rendering
Rendering of new high school.

From Linda Conner Lambeck, CT Post:

The city school board may have pushed the pause button, but the School Building Committee, made up of city council members, city and school officials and a couple of school board members, gave a unanimous thumbs up on Thursday to site plans for a new Harding High School to be built on a remediated GE property.

The vote came after Scott Baillee, of O & G Industry, the city’s building management company, told the committee the city would not only lose a state grant covering 80 percent of the cost of the $77 million project but would be stuck with all costs for the project up to date. According to Baillee and others, a shovel must be in the ground by June 30, 2014. The project can’t move forward, however, without school board approval.

See more here.



  1. Linda,
    One stroke on a keyboard changes the identity of the BOE Facilities Chair John Bagley into John Bailey, who for young folks was the State Democratic Chair at the time of John F. Kennedy’s rise to prominence. Joe Lieberman, later a Senator wrote a political biography of Bailey titled BOSS, I think.
    Whether Bagley knows or cares about committee rules or process, he should be attending the School Building Committee meetings and researching their monthly updates on all school facilities. Failure to do this makes him a weak chair of this important committee. It also makes him less effective because others, not wearing the BOE uniform, must take the shots for him. At the moment no one is calling a technical foul. But that may soon change if there is a repeat of the Lopez “give and go” play.
    On this blog Bridgeport people show they have some good ability to research a subject, know the framework in which developments are moving, and weigh costs, benefits and community interest. If elected representatives are going to act like amateurs, failing to be able to call their own plays and explain their reasons, the public will realize they are in a “league of their own” and will vote them out of office. The members of BOE are not playing with their own “ball.” Rather it is owned by the whole community, and lots of people are looking at this exhibit of “double dribbling.”
    The BOE had multiple issues on its Facilities agenda recently. What happened to the other items? Are they unimportant? Time will tell.

  2. I am totally confused by this story.
    First of all, the O & G guy tells the School Building Committee if the BOE doesn’t approve this AND have shovels in the ground by June 30th then the funding is gone and someone (the city or the BOE) will be responsible for all of the costs incurred to date. But this article does not say how much money that is nor does it say who made a decision to spend that money without BOE approvals in place.
    Then it goes on to say officials from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection told the board GE is responsible for the cleanup and the state won’t sign off on the project unless the property is cleaned to residential standards. So is GE undertaking the cleanup already? Are they nearly done? Has any testing taken place? Somehow GE must complete the project, the DEEP must sign off on it AND the city of Bridgeport must begin construction all before June 30? This seems like another out-of-control project or BS story from the Finch administration.
    The only political party mentioned in this article is the Working Families Party. But there are four Democrats and one Republican on the BOE, 19 Democrats and one Republican on the City Council and who knows and obviously who cares about the party affiliation of the other members of the School Building Committee. And yet if the SBC is the one who has given the go-ahead to spend money without the BOE’s approval, they are to blame for this mess.
    And finally, the BOE once served as the school building committee. But it was under either Joe Ganim or John Fabrizi the makeup was changed. Many believe this was so the mayor would have greater control over handing out of contracts for school construction. And yet if this had never happened the city would not be in this Catch-22 position today.
    And yet it is the Working Families Party that is to blame for this entire mess.
    Good job reporting on this, Linda.

  3. So John, I guess you are one of those people who show they have some good ability to research a subject, know the framework in which developments are moving, and weigh costs, benefits and community interest.
    Care to answer my questions above?

    1. Bob,
      I was at the previous monthly meeting and attempted to raise the issue Clyde Nicholson and Crystal Mack has talked about to the City Council on January 6. That was the first I had heard about “cancer and kids,” but since I do care I attended the School Building Meeting as I had on several occasions in 2013.
      When the Harding project was discussed (as it has been monthly for quite some time) I raised my hand to comment about community input from the Council meeting. Council rep Holloway was chairing the meeting but would not let me speak (though I indicated respectfully I had been allowed to ask a question or make a comment in earlier meetings. I also acknowledged his power as chair to limit input where he wished. Unfortunately Chair Holloway was using Council rules and those are not the rules of the School Building Committee).
      Bob, specific and detailed questions on the Harding project are available at the Construction Management Services office where monthly handouts on each project are filed as are the minutes of each meeting. I think you will be able to see the wells drilled to report on soil contamination in March 13 and the plans that have been advanced to remediate them to “residential standards.”
      Care to know more? Then you will go to the office and ask to see the records, site maps, timelines, etc. I hope you come away somewhat impressed with the amount of info, regularly offered, including financial info, unlike the experience of Council persons when they have to make a decision.
      Hope this targeted response allows you to get at what you are seeking. I am sure you will let me know if my suggestions leave you wanting and not getting. Time will tell.

  4. Since when did we need Scott Baillee of O & G Industry to tell us what to do? Are things slow where he works? When you are needed Mr. Baillee we will call you. To my mind the WFP is acting like they did before the election, do I need to remind them they are in control, no more blaming other people?

  5. *** Come now, just how many available large “clean” ex-industrial or even just empty large abandoned sites are there left in the ex-industrial urban city of Bpt to be able to build a new high school on? In the last 20 years of having new schools built, I would love to see and compare the site soil test results, the plans made to remediate the sites during that time and cost! Also, comparing all those other dirty site results and cost to the present GE site that’s set to be where the new Harding High school would be built. Also why does the city never have a plan B just in case plan A does not pan out for whatever reason? I believe people would be amazed at the soil testing results and cost to fix the problems back then at some of the sites where schools have since been built! Bottom line is, in an old industrial city like Bpt there’s not about to be a lot of large “clean” sites for building schools without some type of cleanup remedies. Either get another expert soil site opinion by someone else and make a comparison with past and present school sites or find an entirely different site like maybe where the old Palace and Majestic theaters are, no? *** LET’S TAKE THE POLITICS OUT OF THIS SCHOOL DECISION ***

  6. If this city does not have a shovel in the ground by June 30th it will be a sad day for Bridgeport and all of the obstructionist a pathetic lot. Harding deserves this school on this site after a cleanup and the idiots standing in the way, every one of you will feel the wrath of hundreds of families not to mention the neighborhood residences and local business. This is a gateway to our city. Why do people continually get in the way with the hick mentalities in the largest city in the state and the City with the most need? It is disgusting at best. Bridgeport hospital’s expansion is a boon for the City and a new school is a must for economic development. Are there any councilmen in this area or are they just invisible and just like feeling important without contributing anything to the neighborhood or the people who elected them? You are not hurting the Mayor, you are hurting the students, families and neighborhood. I guess this keeps the focus off our economic development department and the lack of information on Steelepointe.

  7. Hey Stevem you had better lay blame where it belongs. Our posts here have not stopped the process. What has stopped the process are untrained people who are in charge of getting this program off the ground. If you think my comments and comments of others on this blog have delayed the process I suggest you take a ride to Local Eyes’ house in Trumbull and borrow one of his aluminum foil helmets.
    Steve, how does a new Harding help in economic development? People said the same thing about the solar panels at Seaside.

  8. Andy, I do not blame the bloggers. I only blame those in decision-making roles. Schools are key to economic development and the future well-being of any city. Companies looking to relocate consider the workforce available as well as transferring people. School ratings and academic standing are important, a young couple looking to start a family look at the school system. They are more interested in the schools than whether a new restaurant opens Downtown every 14 months. Business and people want to see improvements in the school system as well as bricks and mortar. Taxes going through the roof without major developments on the books just doesn’t sell a city that is also very light on cultural events. Arts, Entertainment, education and economic development are what we so desperately need. I wonder just what City officials are doing to attract any type of business. Are they putting all their eggs in one basket banking on Steelepointe? Huge mistake. Mayor Finch needs a huge announcement soon. The Connecticut Post cannot keep regurgitating the same Steelepointe story. Harding and Bridgeport Hospital is a no-brainer. Approve it so we can take care of other business. Dragging heels is just a waste of time.

  9. Steve, we seem to be on the same page. The city and the BOE don’t push the school system hardly at all. Test scores are improving. There is the science middle school, the new magnet high school and the Aquaculture school along with other programs but no one talks about them.
    Steel point has been on going since 1987 and nothing yet. My bet is Bass Pro won’t end up here. This city and people in decision-making positions are too busy saying mine is bigger than yours, just look at the Harding site or the solar panel site. It is just one of the examples showing inadequate leadership. Without leadership and direction, development will not start.


Leave a Reply