Should Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas stay or go? That question will be decided by the nine-member Board of Education split on Vallas’ future. It appears five members want him to stay and four want to expel him, including three members affiliated with the Connecticut Working Families Party. OIB asked Lindsay Farrell, executive director of the WFP, to submit a commentary explaining why Vallas must go. We also asked Jessica Martinez, a leader with the education support group Parents 4 Progress to make the case for Vallas to stay. Martinez, a parent who regularly attends school board meetings, says progress has been made under Vallas. She lists accomplishments below. OIB will run the WFP commentary if/when it is received.
Paul Vallas’s Accomplishments in Bridgeport
1) He closed an $18 million deficit from the old BOE without massive teacher layoffs, combining classrooms, or major cuts to high school sports, talented and gifted and arts programs.
Please see this article for the list of cuts being proposed before Paul Vallas arrived in Bridgeport:
None of those cuts were made thanks to Paul Vallas’s leadership.
2) He was able to get increases in city and state funding for Bridgeport Public Schools. His first full year as superintendent (2012-13) was the first in several years that the schools budget was not flat-funded.
3) He standardized the curriculum across the district so that students don’t lose learning time when they change school. The new curriculum is also aligned to the national “Common Core” standards that requires students to develop 21st century skills.
4) He got new textbooks to every school. Students in Bridgeport are taking home new textbooks for the first time in almost in 10 years.
5) He started the “Early College Program” so that Bridgeport high school students can have access to college by taking free classes at local universities.
6) He adopted and has begun to implement the new Bridgeport Parent Engagement Policy that was written by district parents in 2012.
7) He launched the “Good Schools Bridgeport Fund” to bring an additional $10 million into the Bridgeport Public Schools over the next 5 years This money will be used to recruit and train new teachers and leaders, enable more students to attend pre-school and provide money for programs like middle school sports and the college access partnerships. This money will be funded by private donors, not paid for by Bridgeport taxpayers.
8. He made a commitment to improving school safety by creating the “Safe Corridor Initiative.” In partnership with the Bridgeport Police Department, the U.S. Department Homeland Security and Bridgeport volunteers, the district will ensure that all students have safe routes both to and from school and that all of our schools are safe and secured.