School board member Maria Pereira, lamenting the 5-4 Lighthouse Program vote, dresses down the members who voted in favor, in this commentary.
Wednesday, June 28, 2017, will be remembered as a day that will live in infamy for the Bridgeport Board of Education (BBOE), the Bridgeport Public Schools (BPS) and our over 21,199 students. On this day our students unequivocally lost.
Mayor Ganim has broken every single campaign promise he made regarding funding our Bridgeport Public Schools (BPS), but more importantly he broke a promise to our 21,199 students. In fact, there is no Mayor in all of CT who contributes less to its public schools than Mayor Ganim.
Not only did Mayor Ganim refuse to give our BPS one additional dollar for the 2015/2016 school year leaving us to face a $15,000,000 deficit, he went on to present a budget for 2017/2018 which illegally reduced his contribution by $2.2 million. This can only be described as blatant theft from innocent children. The City Council reinstated the $2.2 million and only appropriated an additional $387,000 for next school year leaving us to potentially face another $11,000,000 budget gap. Ultimately, Mayor Ganim and the City Council thought your precious children’s, grandchildren’s, etc. education and future success was only worth an additional $18.00 for each student over a two-year period.
Five members of the BBOE along with Superintendent Johnson had been able to stand united in resisting Mayor Ganim and his henchmen’s attempts to force the board to rescind a $500,000 fee the previous board imposed on the City of Bridgeport’s Lighthouse Program in a 7 to 1 vote. A program rampant with fraud, illegal activity, filled with political patronage jobs, mismanagement, and no record by the City of Bridgeport for almost $900,000 in annual parent fees collected.
Chair Joe Larcheveque, without consulting Superintendent Johnson or the CFO Marlene Siegel, called a Special Meeting and placed a generic agenda item regarding a
‘Modification to City of Bridgeport BOE Budget Allocation.” Not a single high-level member of the Superintendent’s administration knew what this was in reference to. In fact, Superintendent Johnson made it clear she did not support any effort to reduce the $500,000 Lighthouse Program fee or incur the costs of BPD officers when we are already so understaffed, under-resourced and potentially facing another $11,000,000 in devastating cuts.
Upon arrival, Chair Larcheveque distributed a one-page handout created by the City of Bridgeport OPM demonstrating a four-year salary and benefits schedule regarding a federal grant for nine (9) school resource officers in which the Board of Education was expected to pay the City of Bridgeport $434,753 in 2020/2021, or 50% of their salaries AFTER the grant expired. These officers would not be BOE employees. The federal grant was not provided to the BOE members to read and understand what authority we would have over the four SROs we would be paying for. When I asked Chair Larcheveque if he had read the federal grant he expected the BOE to help fund, he stated “no, I have not.” Not a single BOE member was provided with the grant in violation of board policy.
In addition, the motion by Republican John Weldon granted Republican Chair Larcheveque sole authority to negotiate an agreement with the City of Bridgeport for the payment of $434,753, and to only have the City of Bridgeport pay “costs” associated with utilizing our buildings which he estimated was $75,000 although our “costs” include losing $160,000 annually in our Nutrition Budget for providing their after school snack.
The most underfunded school district in CT will lose between $365,000 to $425,000 annually in revenue from the City of Bridgeport Lighthouse Program and $434,753 in fees that we will pay for non-BOE employees of the BPD. As the most severely underfunded district in CT, five (5) members of the Bridgeport Board of Education voted to lose annual financial resources of up to $800,000 to $860,000 annually.
Why would these five members vote against our 21,199 students and the request of Superintendent Johnson? Well, that’s easy.
Republican Joe Larcheveque is a Republican in name only (RINO). He co-led the boycott for three months abdicating his statutory obligations to our 21,199 students, families and staff. His wife serves on the Democratic Town Committee led by Danny Roach. This was Ganim’s best man in his wedding and he makes $120,000 annually in a no-show job in Public Facilities serving at Mayor Ganim’s pleasure.
Republican John Weldon is also a Black Rock resident close to Joe Larcheveque who consults with DTC leader Danny Roach. And, after running for the BOE twice unsuccessfully, Mayor Ganim appointed him to fill a vacancy. Those appointed are beholden to those who appoint them.
Republican Annette Segarra was the very first appointee made by Mayor Ganim to fill a board vacancy. She originally voted that if the Lighthouse Program did not pay the $500,000, they were to vacate our buildings by June 30th. She stood with the majority of the board and the superintendent just weeks ago when Fonseca tried to rescind the fees. On this day, she did what Mayor Ganim directed her to do. Those appointed are beholden to those who appoint them.
Democrat Dennis Bradley cut a backroom deal with Danny Roach, Mayor Ganim and Democratic Party Chair Testa to become Chair of the BOE although he had only attended five BOE meetings in his life. He had the worst attendance record of every BOE member, and led a boycott for three months abdicating his statutory obligation to our 21,199 students, staff, and parents. As Chair, he did not attend a single high school graduation for 2015/2016 and again in 2016/2017. He has been absolutely derelict in his responsibilities as a board member.
Democrat Rafael Fonseca and his wife are loyalists of DTC Chair Testa, and he was appointed by Mayor Ganim to fill a vacancy. Those appointed are beholden to those who appoint them. For 2016/2017 school year, he has the worst attendance record of all nine BOE members. In fact, he originally voted that if the Lighthouse Program did not pay their $500,000 fee, they were to be out of our school buildings by June 30, 2017. However, after he did Mayor Ganim’s bidding and cast his vote, he got up and walked out although we had four more agenda items. He has been absolutely derelict in his responsibilities as a board member.
This is a perfect example why we should ALWAYS have an elected Board of Education. The only way you can hold an elected official accountable is at the polls on Election Day.
If you truly care about the well-being of over 21,199 BPS students, you CANNOT vote for a single Democrat on Row A in the September 12th Democratic Party. The reason being they will be 100% beholden to the corrupt Democratic powers that be.
It is for this same reason that you cannot vote for a single endorsed Republican on Row B in November. They are subservient to the Democratic Party as well.
Please consider voting for petitioning candidates or Working Families Party candidates because over 21,000 BPS students are counting on you to elect those who care about their academic, social, and emotional well-being not what corrupt politicians tell them to do.
My personal goal is to ensure Mayor Ganim isn’t in a position to collect his half a million dollar payment for BPD officers in 2020/2021 because he should not be re-elected as Mayor in 2019. Are you with me?