Can anything become too political in Bridgeport, the city that rarely disappoints in its charges and counter charges? As noted here, the Board of Education yanked a series of neighborhood forums devoted to its fiscal challenges because they became too “political” in an election year.
The mayor, City Council and four school board seats are up this year. A majority of board members agreed that the forums placed a heavy emphasis on personalities over pennies.
Some community groups such as Bridgeport Generation Now are weighing in.
Board members John Weldon, Jessica Martinez, Sybil Allen, Hernan Illingworth and Chris Taylor voted to quell the forums. Maria Pereira and Ben Walker who often join in a minority bloc voted to maintain the forums. They are among the four up for reelection. Dennis Bradley and Sybil Allen round out the others.
The board decision came Tuesday night cancelling a forum scheduled for Wednesday at Marin School on the East Side.
The cash-strapped school system is gearing up for another budget process to woo full funding on behalf of its approximately 20,000 students. While the school board approves a spending plan the money it receives is ultimately decided by the mayor and City Council based largely on the dollars received from the state.
Mayor Joe Ganim will submit his proposed budget to the council the first week of April. From there it is referred to the Budget and Appropriations Committee where most of the budget alterations are fashioned. Public hearings will be scheduled along the way to hear from various constituencies about spending priorities prior to a budget vote in May.
Ganim and the City Council will not raise taxes in an election year. So the larger question from pro-education funders becomes how much were schools shortchanged in the cause of flatlining taxes?
On the campaign trail last year Governor Ned Lamont pledged to beef up state education support to city schools. He will submit his first budget proposal to the state legislature by February 20. Then the legislative swirl begins to parcel out municipal and education funding. What happens in the State Capitol dramatically impacts Bridgeport’s budget.
Meanwhile, this is an election year so welcome to the political party, pal.