New School Super Shares Mission

Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas who’s officially on the job this week issued this introductory letter to school system stakeholders:

Greetings!

I hope all of you have had a enjoyable and relaxing holiday vacation. The holidays always fly by so fast. I want to take this opportunity to express to you how thrilled I am to be here as your superintendent and for the opportunity to work with you to build a dynamic and successfully school district.

Our mission here is simple.

1. To eliminate this year’s budget deficit while developing a long term plan to bring financial stability to the district so that there is certainty in funding and that schools are not burdened with the uncertainty as to when the next budget cuts are coming.

2. Develop a long term comprehensive plan to ensure that the central administration is indeed a school improvement and support organization and that schools have the modes, resources and training needed to guarantee that they exceed State performance standards.

3. To recruit, train and mentor the next generation of school leaders so as to ensure long term that the district will be financially stable and will continue to advance academically.

I arrive after a successful four year tenure as head of the Louisiana Recovery School District which included schools that had been destroyed or damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Partnering with me in this work will be Sandra Kase, a long time educator who achieved national renown for her work as the Superintendent of the Chancellor’s District in New York City. Additionally, Don Kennedy, an exceptional district administrator with an impressive record in school district operations and financial management and Marlene Siegel, a renowned school district budget expert from New York City will be part of the team.

We arrive with no preconceived notions about the district. Our intent will be to quickly identify the strengths and weaknesses and the needs of the district and to design and implement our plans accordingly. We will build upon your successes and the progress you have made and will pursue strategies that are familiar and create minimal disruption. Everything we do will be governed by the single overarching objective of improving and supporting classroom instruction.

We look forward to meeting with principals and assistant principals and their primary teacher leaders in the coming weeks and will be visiting schools to meet school based staff and students personally.

Good fortune and health to you and yours in the coming school year. I look forward to working with you.

Paul G. Vallas

Superintendent of Schools

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10 comments

  1. Mr. Vallas,
    I want to know who approached you to come to Bridgeport. If Finch or Timpanelli were your first contacts and then you were ‘vetted’ by the state, I have an issue with that … a serious issue.

    We have a problem with the way our BOE spends money on infrastructure items outside of teachers’ salaries such as contracts for goods and services. You do not have a good record in that regard.

    We desperately need reformation in the area of how and to whom such contracts are ‘awarded.’ That’s where we are hemorrhaging. You do not appear to be the right man for the job. We were promised an independent savior. You look like a typical Bridgeport ‘appointee.’

  2. yahooy … From all the articles I read about Vallas, none stated he was a “Yes” man or a tool of the administration.

    My initial impression from press coverage is very positive. For the first time, it looks like our BOE did think outside the box and grabbed somebody with balls, backbone and creativity.

    I have a strong hunch his team will uncover substantial savings by uncovering poor business practices and those savings would be invested in better programs. I very much doubt this would have happened under the old board.

    You are coming across like a psychotic paranoid … Give this guy a break.

    1. yahooy,
      I have seen your comments several times. It seems you are talking about funds that are spent within the school system other than for salaries, benefit funding and retirement contributions. Correct? And do you exclude the new construction and renovation budgets that have been the domain of Art Harris? And then are you focusing on consultants, computers, desks, food and other items? Do you have any notion of the dollar amounts involved? Would you like to participate this budget year in Budget Oversight Bridgeport (BOB-2012)? BOB needs help and a curious, investigative interest would be a critical first quality. How about it, yahooy? Time will tell.

  3. As a Bridgeport student we are seeing positive change. I do not know if it has been announced yet but somehow Central High School has received a multimillion dollar renovation project to start this school year ending some time in 2014. Also I sit as one of six students on the student achievement work group, an advisory board to the BOE on how policies are carried out and created to effect the way it’s perceived by the students. So as a spoiler alert … we are planning to effect the uniform policy to better fit our high school students coming next year. Things must be changed and the BOE along with Mr. Vallas is making a great change. Whether it is the oldest trick in the book to keep us watching one hand while something is going on in the other or it’s truly a change seems be the discussion on debate. I remain optimistic, trying to see a positive future.

  4. Was it the Don Kennedy from Seattle? Just wondering …
    seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/tag/don-kennedy/

    GOODLOE-JOHNSON OUSTED AS SEATTLE SCHOOLS CHIEF; March 2, 2011, Seattle PI (WA)

    The Seattle school board voted unanimously Wednesday to fire Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson over a $1.8 million financial scandal involving a district business development program …

    Since the board voted to fire Goodloe-Johnson without cause, she is entitled under her contract to severance pay of $264,000, a sum equal to one year’s salary.

    Also shown the door Wednesday was Don Kennedy, the district’s Chief Financial and Operations Officer. Like Goodloe-Johnson, Kennedy, who came from South Carolina, was fired without cause, meaning he must be paid a severance of $87,000 — half of his annual salary — under the terms of his contract.

    School board members described the decision as a difficult one, yet necessary to restore the public and the board’s trust in the school system and to change a management culture that bred an “atmosphere of fear and intimidation.” Board members said it was important to act decisively and to refocus on the mission of serving children.

    No, that would not be possible. The Board of Ed has never had a problem like that (cough, Sonia, cough).

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