The School Board’s Leap Of Faith For A Loan

With the General Assembly in special session, CT Post reporter Ken Dixon wrote this:

One measure up for approval would provide a $3.5 million loan to the Bridgeport school board if it allows the state education commissioner to select the three finalists for Bridgeport school superintendent or its chief financial officer.

If the city lives up to the requirement, the loan may be forgiven.

Mary Loftus Levine, executive director of the Connecticut Education Association, said the city is being forced to give up its autonomy for a few million dollars.

“It’s very undemocratic,” she said in a phone interview Tuesday night. “In many districts there’s a committee made up of the stakeholders who actually live and work in the city. The boards of education are the people who hire their superintendents. That’s the way the process has been. It’s unusual for the commissioner to have this kind of power.”

Jonathan Pelto reports



  1. The voters in the city of Bridgeport are NOT capable of choosing who any of their elected Board of Education members are–and therefore their superintendent of schools. Bill Finch decided this last year when he dissolved the ELECTED Board of Ed–remember???

  2. Can someone explain to me how does this happen?
    Who committed the city of Bridgeport to asking the state of CT for a $3.4 million loan?
    Paul Vallas? Before he was even named superintendent?
    Bill Finch? Without any authorization from the City Council? An illegally constituted Board of Education?
    And speaking of lack of institutional controls, how does Paul Vallas go out and spend millions on software packages without going out to public bidding?

  3. Paul Vallas sat down and talked with JML for an hour, so Vallas gets a free pass. It’s Open, Accountable, Transparent AND/OR friendly!!!
    Don’t forget, when the CT Post was filing FOI inquiries about this “loan” both the state and the city refused to provide any documents.
    Where is TC and his normal “utter BS” comment?
    Or is that because TC was allowed in on the JML sit-down?

  4. From the CT Post
    “Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch did not return a request for comment Tuesday night.”

    The type of cowardice we have come to expect from our so-called leasers.

    Here is a quote the CT Post could have recycled, “Sometimes democracy does not work.”

    Yes. And Bill Finch is a living, breathing example of what happens when it doesn’t.

  5. Good reporting on the details of book purchases. Were these purchases disclosed in the five-year plan? Were books needed and not available? Or are there books in warehouses not delivered to classrooms per older Bridgeport history?
    People come and people go in all institutions. Bills must be paid after a fashion and if negotiating has allowed necessary books to be available to students in the fall 2012 and final payments made several years later, what is the specific problem? Isn’t that what we do in debt financing, like bonding for construction? Or notes for objects with a shorter life? Where is the real problem? Boards are “people” too! They win some and lose some. Help us to know whether you have a problem with book purchasing outright? Financing of same over multiple years? Decisions made by one Board? Activities of employed personnel? Time will tell.

  6. i have worked for the BOE for the last 20+ years. Reading programs have been regularly replaced every 2 to 3 years supposedly because the programs don’t work–supposedly students are not learning how to read. Millions of dollars of reading (and math) textbooks are discarded yearly. The babies are always thrown out with the bathwater, and yet TEACHERS are blamed for the lack of students’ educational achievement. You can’t teach a child to read when untested reading programs are brought in so frequently. NO ONE from the BOE (appointed or elected) NOR the superintendent asks those who work in the trenches what might work best in improving students’ reading levels–note I said LEVELS, NOT test scores. When a student’s reading level improves, his/her test scores will rise–and across the board. It’s all about how the powers that be can line their pockets.

  7. Thanks for some good specifics. Frankly I too am curious about how purchasing rules are ignored. So who is in charge of those issues? Have they been challenged? What is their answer? If these are hard things for you to surface, get the facts to me, I am present at enough City Council and BOE meetings where the public may speak or question and these are appropriate concerns in my opinion. I find the BOE tries to give some feedback and have seen that as some improvement over talking to the City Council.
    Getting data and using it to remedy current problems is very intelligent (your point and I am surprised that is not part of the Vallas plan that seems to be data driven).
    And the system that rapidly show student accomplishment as well as teacher success or weakness in pursuit of their teaching mission also sounded impressive to me. Knowing this was not being done currently across the entire Bridgeport system was a concern.

    So are you saying despite materials being used by Vallas in Chicago, Philly and N.O. there are no metrics, no results reported from those cities using same or similar materials?

    I have not looked at BOE minutes to see what has been discussed, reviewed and voted upon. What has been the process on the issues you raise within the BOE since January on these matters? Look forward to your responses. Time will tell.

  8. *** “$pend, $pend, $pend,” the fight song of the Bpt BOE school system! Outcome, budget gap year after year with negative academic achievements, no? *** FINANCE 101 ***


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