The Annual School Fight

Two out of three Bridgeport classrooms are overcrowded.

One out of three Bridgeport children enter kindergarten with no preschool experience.

Bridgeport is the most underfunded school district in the state of Connecticut.

These declarations were posted prominently Tuesday morning on the ballroom wall of the Holiday Inn for the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition’s 2009 Breakfast Conference that featured keynote speaker and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile who blew away the crowd with a combination of Southern self-deprecation and penetrating barbs at Republicans.

BCAC’s tenacious Executive Director Marilyn Ondrasik, who’s not afraid to get in the face of local and state legislative officials about funding for city schools, told a packed ballroom that “quality education should not be based on where (children) live or how much money their parents make.”

Tonight in City Council chambers the public hearing for the city budget and Board of Education will no doubt attract a coalition of education advocates that make the annual sojourn to highlight funding inadequacies. Roughly 75 percent of BOE funding comes from the state. The BOE makes a funding request to the mayor, the mayor issues his funding proposal to the City Council and it is the public hearing where education advocates burn for a few crumbs more.

Mayor Bill Finch, who shared the podium with Brazile and Ondrasik, was in good humor and strong form during his opening remarks, emphasizing times are tough but the horizon looks hopeful. Finch’s strength is his optimism and enthusiasm, and he displayed both to an audience of willing listeners. They want the city to succeed, and it appears the mayor is breathing a little easier knowing that the budget year starting July 1, with revaluation going into effect, will not produce the citywide tax hit that he feared. It’s pretty much a mixed bag, with some pockets receiving tax increases, others decreases and a whole bunch staying the same.

That’s good news for Finch as he heads toward two years in office. You don’t want to start out with two large tax hits. At the same time Finch understands how fragile budgets can be as he sets his eyes upon reelection in 2011.

A special OIB salute to Brian Langdon who received BCAC’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his years of service to Bridgeport children and families. Brian, as the director of the human services leader Family Services Woodfield, provided BCAC with a home for its first 18 years.

As for Donna Brazile, the CNN analyst and regular on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopolous had the crowd roaring from start to finish. Listen to part of her remarks here, starting with her response to an overture from the mayor to move into the city. {running time: 15:36}

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News release from Mayor Finch

City Prepares for Swine Flu

BRIDGEPORT, CT (April 28, 2009) – Due to recent outbreak of the Swine Flu in other parts of the country, the City of Bridgeport’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has been activated to a Level 1 (Monitoring) status. The Bridgeport Department of Public Health & Social Services along with the City of Bridgeport EOC’s Emergency Support Function 8 Health & Medical Team (consisting of AMR, St. Vincent’s Medical Center and Bridgeport Hospital Liaisons) have been monitoring the recent developments of the flu and have activated their pandemic flu plans and preparations in anticipation of any outbreaks within the City of Bridgeport or surrounding areas. To date there are no confirmed cases of Swine Flu in the Connecticut .

Mayor Bill Finch urged city residents and businesses to heed all emergency warnings related to this outbreak and to follow all recommended health precautions in preparing yourself, families and employees in contraction of this virus.

“There is no reason to panic seeing there have been no cases in the City of Bridgeport .

I do urge Bridgeport residents to stay safe and follow all advisories and warnings that may be issued by the city or state Departments of Public Health. Your assistance with preparing for and adhering to our emergency instructions will assist us tremendously with our emergency operations efforts,” said Mayor Finch .

How to protect yourself:

Cover your nose when you cough or sneeze
Wash your hands, often
Avoid contact with sick people
If you are sick with the flu: STAY HOME, limit your contact with the outside.

For more information the City of Bridgeport Health Department (203-576-7680) has posted links with information and resources on the City of Bridgeport Health Department website ci.bridgeport.ct.us.

Himes cancels Saturday coffee hours in Bridgeport

BRIDGEPORT, CT -Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) will cancel the May 2nd community coffee hour in Bridgeport announced last week. The coffee hours scheduled for that same day in Darien and New Canaan will take place as planned.

CANCELLED:

Bridgeport Coffee Hour
Port Coffeehouse
2889 Fairfield Avenue, Bridgeport
3:30 pm to 5:30 pm

For all my Republican friends, from the NRCC

Today, Senator Arlen Specter switched his party affiliation to the Democrat Party. I hope you will join me in saying “Good Riddance.”

Don’t give Democrats a blank check, support the NRCC.

While today’s party switch underscores how well Specter will fit in with his new Democrat colleagues, this act of political self-interest comes at a very serious cost. If Democrats succeed in stealing the election in Minnesota they will have a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. This would amount to a blank check for Democrats to continue spending trillions of your tax dollars with ZERO accountability.

This supposedly was a concern for Specter when last month he stated:

“I am staying a Republican because I think I have an important role, a more important role, to play there. The United States very desperately needs a two-party system. That’s the basis of politics in America. I’m afraid we are becoming a one-party system… I think as a governmental matter, it is very important to have a check and balance.” – Sen. Arlen Specter, 3/17/09

But like his principles, I guess this no longer applies.

Don’t give Democrats a blank check, support the NRCC.

Now, your support for House Republicans matters more than ever. Since taking power in 2007, Democrats have worsened the culture in Washington, while strapping this country with trillions in new debt and crushing tax hikes on all Americans.

Remember, it was the House Republicans who stood in unison to oppose the so-called “stimulus” and the budget.

Don’t give Democrats a blank check, support the NRCC.

Now more than ever, it is important to elect principled, fiscally responsible Republicans. Help us send Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Arlen Specter a message by supporting the NRCC as we work to elect Republicans like you and me.

Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,

Guy Harrison, Executive Director

P.S. Americans deserve Representatives who put principles first. Please support the NRCC as we work to rid Washington of self-interested Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and turncoats like Arlen Specter.

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40 comments

  1. How many years have the city school districts been underfunded? When does someone finally take charge? The problem seems very simple. You need one leader maybe the “Mayor”, one common denominator. Everyone agrees Bpt. does not get their fair share of funding. Some kind of unity where all the St. reps, senate, congress and districts finally work together for the kids. We need to work together at something and be successful. No star performance here, no egos just unity for education. OH and by the way the star performer will be taking her bows this morning at the Senior Breakfast. All Hail THE QUEEN.

  2. Just read your blog Lennie. Two out of every three classrooms are overcrowded? I don’t doubt that but after building 8 new schools how can this be? When these schools were in their planning stages didn’t anyone at the board of Ed do a study that would project what the school population would be when these schools were completed. Obviously not.
    First off I think the board of Ed should come under the mayor’s office as he gets the heat for what’s wrong with the BOE and has very little input on how this money pit is operated. I know this seems strange that I would say this based on my past posts concerning the mayor. It worked in New York where Boomberg took over the responsibility. We know that the present system does not work. We know that the elected officials to the BOE are abject failures. If the mayor gets the blame at least give him the input and the power to run the BOE.
    BTW where is the BOE audit? What happened to it?
    We will always get screwed by Hartford when it comes down to a vote in the legislature. 163 towns vs 6 large cities. Do the math. Another fine example of towns and cities working together.

    1. Town Committee
      I agree with you that I doubt overcrowding is as big of an issue as they are claiming. However, there are only 5 new schools. Barnum, Waltersville, Tisdale, Johnson and Batalla.
      Schools like Columbus and Black Rock have classes with as few as 12-14 students. Some of the schools should be closed to help save money.

      I don’t believe the BOE is underfunded. They need to spend their money wisely.

    2. “Two out of every three classrooms are overcrowded? I don’t doubt that but after building 8 new schools how can this be?”

      TC have you really been knocking on doors? You don’t know where many of these students are coming from?
      While knocking on doors–if you are–you should notice that there are many immigrant families with lots of babies and toddlers. How many of these families are here illegally? What’s the impact of illegal immigrations on the Bridgeport BOE budget? Hot Button Issues the type all BOE members have been afraid to explore and discuss. Perhaps if we can get a money figure of this type of impact on education cost, we can get Jim Himes and Dodd to deduct the cost from foreign aid to the native countries of the illegals. Just an idea!

  3. Underfunded? My ass!!! Undermanaged is more like it. Too bad I’m on vacation and in a thoroughly pleasant mood. Otherwise I would be breaking a lot of BOE balls.

    Local Eyes and Mojo … you are both a couple of jerks.

    1. *** (bohooy) Just ’cause you’re an “old undercover maytag queen,” that doesn’t make gay marriages right, especially without a CT citizen’s vote on such a moral issue! *** Also, why are you always referring to asses in general, one way or another in your blogs there, Chupa-peepee? *** How’s the weather been @ “P-town” during your vacation, doing any fishing for rainbow snappers? ***

      1. MoFo …

        I’m not gay. Your degrading comments make it sound like there is something wrong with being gay. I don’t happen to think there is anything wrong with gay people. Too bad you do.

        1. *** The way you defend anything blogged against the movement leaves lots of room for doubt! Regardless, you’re still a wannabe know it all that needs a reality check in manners and respect! *** Also, you must be real bored on your vacation if you need to blog daily on OIB? You’re a lonely pitiful person with no life. It must suck to be you! ***

          1. *** C.H.S. “Your mother, Your mother, Your stepmother too! I would say father but he didn’t stick around long! *** Ha! Ha! Ha! ***

  4. I see where Flush Timpanelli’s group has a grant that will be spent on an efficiency study of the BOE and its purchasing practices, transportation and feeding of students. This should be interesting and it will ultimately cost the city somewhere down the road.
    If there are major changes needed to improve these areas then I suggest the high-priced BOE employees now running these programs be fired.
    We had a committee to look into the dropout rate of 60Plus percent. The best they could come up with was hire a consultant for $20K.
    Look this is not rocket science. The schools are not keeping the non-college-bound students because their course work is irrelevant to what these kids will be doing once out of school. We need to get these kids ready for the real world with a trade school-like curriculum. The trade schools we now have are full and can only take so many of the hundreds that apply.
    Until these educational experts wake up and realize what they are offering these high school kids is not working nor is it keeping them in school we will have generations of lost kids stuck in minimum-wage jobs.

  5. “Bridgeport Now” thanks all our viewers and Soundview public access for making our programs possible. We have had the focus on Pleasure Beach for the last month, including last night’s program. Today’s CT Post front-page article is about Stratford deciding to demolish the houses there. Let’s see what Bridgeport does now.

  6. So how’s that “forensic audit” of the school system coming along? Max? John? Bill? Mario?

    You’ve got to love the BCAC, Chicken Little tendencies aside, but really, would it not advance their cause to also advocate for some fiscal responsibility and accountability as opposed to simply calling for more school spending year after year?

    1. Bepo Bob

      BCAC, like the BOE, deserves an F. Every year we hear about how the sky is falling and they offer no real solutions or problem solving skills. Just another study telling us what we already know.

      Also, Ms. Brazile 66 should have spent more time on educational issues instead of serving up her DNC greens and grits to everybody at the Holiday Inn. She’s a political porker who’s been rolling around the mud for years.

  7. Gossip of The Rialto!

    From the annals of the Connecticut Post.

    Bridgeport Board of Education surplus is pegged at 4.5 million dollars.

    Trumbull to put out bids for their own Waste Water Treatment Plant. Lennie had this story 2 weeks ago. I guess we could say that Lennie’s story, leaked line and stinker.

  8. Topics from the past few days would have normally kept me quiet but I can’t resist the temptation to vent any longer.

    First, re overcrowding, can anyone explain why years ago teachers and in my case nuns had classes well in excess of today’s standards and the dropout rate was far lower than today? Is it the class size or ill-prepared and equipped teachers, a strong union, and lack of interest by today’s parents? When and how do we work on those issues instead of building monuments that will be destroyed in a couple years by ill-mannered children?

    Second, re comments from Mojo, you are the most homophobic person I’ve seen on this blog. Are you covering up your inner feelings? I’m a gay man, proud of it, and want my civil rights, just like blacks, latinos, and women … nothing more, nothing less. BTW, I’m against gay marriage. I don’t understand why gays want to emulate a straight institution that has a 50% failure rate. All people who want to join in a union should have it witnessed by the state, period. If you want a religious service, that’s a personal issue. Let’s keep church and state separate, let’s grant all Americans the same civil rights, and let’s show compassion and understanding to our fellow human beings.

    1. *** Never assume that gay rights in general has anything to do with Black, Minorities or even the women’s struggle! Personal same-sex bedroom preference or lust, and all the rights you claim & so-called struggle for political acceptance don’t belong in the same category with minority human rights! And because I don’t agree with gay marriages & happen to think it’s immoral in general does not make me homophobic. It makes me the moral majority with a personal opinion. ***

    2. Congratulations on your ‘coming out’ and standing up for your lifestyle of choice. Perhaps we should all chip in for a 7 day 6 night vacation trip for MOJO. We can send him to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico–The gay capitol of Puerto Rico–and set him up in a motel near La Plaza de Colon.

  9. Independent Soul: On the school system I think the responsibility lies with the BOE, the teachers and the parents. They all have to take some of the blame for what education in Bridgeport has become. In my opinion the school system has become a babysitting service for many of the kids. We have the 6 to 6 program, we have lighthouse program and we have parents in many cases who spend no more than 3 or 4 hours a day with their kids. If homework is not done in the after school programs then in many NOT ALL cases it does not get done.
    We have teachers who just don’t give a shit and why should they? There is no barometer that measures their impact on students or their overall performance. They have a job for life. There is also the case where they are not getting parental help in schooling these kids.
    The BOE is an over-bloated monster that is nothing more than a money pit where lazy self-absorbed administrators try to maintain the status quo. Do you think any of them have been working to solve a 68% dropout rate? Not a f’n chance.
    If we don’t do something soon we will continue to fill our city with ill-educated kids that have no hope and no future. Challenge these kids come up with courses that make these kids want to come to school.
    Each morning where I get my papers there are loads of kids waiting for the bus to high school. I have yet to see one kid with a book Not one kid and I look every day. What happened to homework? Why no books? Nobody gives a shit, period.

    1. I sent my kids to public schools for three years. They had to share books and those were torn with missing pages. I took them out and footed the bill for Catholic Schools. That killed me as I disagree with the church’s position on many social and moral issues. I did it for my kids and I’m glad I did.

      What’s up with the $4 million BOE surplus? Are they applying that to the budget deficit? God forbid they buy some new books.

  10. Right on, Indy. I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of Mojo’s bigotry, grammatically challenged postings and endless defense of Mario and Rosemarie Hoyt. His reference to queens and rainbow snappers was way over the top. I think he’s projecting his own insecurities. He’s the one with Mario’s dick up his ass. Thank God he no longer holds public office.

    We were spared the presence of Princess Lisa at the Annex this morning. I heard she was at the senior breakfast with Charlie. That must be part of her job description. God forbid she actually do some work! Hell, I’m not gay but I could be Charlie’s date if I could have a job like Lisa’s.

    1. *** C.H.S. works for City Hall, blogs & hides behind a website name & knows all, disrespects those that work for the city and all that may not agree with the usual 1-way rumors that are either started by people outside the box or inside the box disgruntled employees like C.H.S. And like some of the other Penis-heads, is always right in opinion, a wiz in spelling & doesn’t realize that Bpt. is not that big and sooner or later their true cowardly I.D. will be found out. They have all the answers to all the problems that have been around for years, except for their own! I usually like to think there are 2 sides to a story & somewhere in the middle the truth may be found. And just because it’s blogged here doesn’t make it gospel either. If “first blood” is not drawn because of an opinion or questionable quote, I’m not disrespectful with my blogs in general. But I too can get nasty if needed & most of all, I’m not hiding like a scared kid behind a fake, nobody knows it’s me forum handle! Everybody knows me for the most part and I don’t have trouble looking in peoples eyes like some of the 2-faces on this forum do! I’m not on the council anymore, or D.T.C. or work for the city on a full-time regular basis & might see Mr. Testa once a month when stopping for a cold beer & lunch during the weekdays. I’m my own man regardless of the B/S blogged on this forum by spineless leeches & if anyone has a problem with that, I’m easy to find in Bpt. So that’s my story & I’m sticking to it and FUCK all you lame gutless crying wannabes! Grow a pair or go out & buy some fake ones @ your local Porn shop like Independent Soul, Yahooy, C.H.S., Password, etc. … ***

  11. It will never cease to amaze me how people like Mojo can continue to think the way they do in 2009. If you can answer yes to one simple question, “do all Americans deserve the same civil rights?” then you must be in favor of civil rights for gays. What I do in the privacy of my home is not your business. How I conduct myself in business is not your business. As an American I deserve the rights as do all, and expect you to respect that right. You don’t have to like me personally (I probably wouldn’t like you, either), but at least I can state that I will fight to protect your civil rights, regardless of how stupidly you speak. And yes, thank God you are no longer in public office.

    Hey Wondering, what about the $1M plus “parent center” the BOE has on Boston Ave.? Your tax dollars at work!

    Thanks smoker! = I hate smoking, BTW, but defend your right to do it. People like Mojo and the holier than thou powers in city hall really irritate me. And CC is not my type, but for a $60k job I’d put a sock on his p^!@k and a bag over his head and give him some!

    1. *** I thought that was your personal business, so what happened to “don’t ask, don’t tell”? You see it’s not the fact that you can be discriminated against for being gay in your everyday life, it’s that morally it offends me when you try to flaunt that so-called lifestyle in my face or on minor children as being okay, the way to go, 21st century B/S. It’s lust, one of the 7 deadly sins, God if you believe which you probably don’t, did not put Adam & Steve nor Alice & Eve on earth to repopulate the world! There’s too many physical, mental, medical & scientific; as well as social, moral & religious negatives, etc. against the gay lifestyle to be looked & passed as only a personal civil rights problem so humanity should just accept it! You’re right, keep it in the privacy of your bedroom and turn off all the lights! ***

  12. city hall smoker–So if the princess was at the senior breakfast, does any one know if the Queen took a bow? Ssssssh you’re not to talk about the Queen. Mario the original Machine is a little ruffled sending out some messages; the Queen has some new demands. It’s been said she owns the Eisenhower building.

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