Paul Vallas now runs the day-to-day operations of the Bridgeport school system. He knows something about managing urban schools. He did that in Philadelphia, Chicago and New Orleans. He has his supporters and detractors. Bridgeport’s school system is often cited by folks apprehensive about buying a house in the city, by executives squeamish to move a workforce there, by advocates hoping for a hero. Vallas comes to the state’s largest city at a historic moment.
When times are good and the streets are relatively quiet the school system has become an acceptable place. These are different times. Last summer the elected Board of Education, with the backing of Mayor Bill Finch, embraced historic change, voting itself out of existence in favor of state-appointed members. Vallas has a lot of latitude to do what he wants.
Vallas started his first full week as Justin Thompson, a 14-year-old student at Barnum School, was shot and killed by gunfire early Sunday morning in the East End. Talk about trauma for a neighborhood and school system. A community rally as a result of the shooting will take place Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the Stratford Avenue police precinct.
One hour later the Board of Education will host a meet and greet for Vallas at Central High School on Lincoln Boulevard. A notice has been sent inviting “parents, staff and community.” Dr. Sandra Kase, a seasoned professional educator whom Vallas brought in to serve as chief administrative officer of the school system, is also scheduled to attend.