The Valor Of Vallas, Your Chance To Meet The School Super

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.



  1. This Sunday morning while at church our pastor always asks the congregation before the start of service to greet your neighbor, so I see a tall thin white guy sitting by himself in the back row and I go over to him and shake his hand and tell him welcome to Mt. Aery. He said thank you and tells me his name is Paul Vallas the new Acting Superintendent of schools. I wished him the best of luck and we expected a lot out of him and this was not New Orleans.

    After church I went over to speak to him and there were a number of people talking with him. He took his time and answered most of their questions and told them how to followup with him for their answers. I found him engaging, patient and sincere. My friend and I spoke with him for about five minutes, he also told us a little about his background in Chicago and I once again told him Bridgeport is not New Orleans because you could do what you wanted there because there was no government there. He did say they will be able to make some positive changes; we’ll see, we’ll see.

  2. Remember Ron, this guy was a politician in Chicago and Illinois long before he was an educator.
    Oh, that’s right, he was never an educator.
    Go back to Lennie’s previous post about this guy and his goals/priorities for Bpt schools.
    Number 1 was the budget and finances and not improving the learning process.
    He is a hired gun looking at a hit and run!

  3. Vallas should change the date and time of his meet and greet at 6 pm at Central High since the community anti-violence rally and march is starting at 5 pm on Stratford Ave. but marching to city hall.

  4. Grin Reaper,
    Are you saying the school district has been so well run under Sonia and Ramos; both professional educators?

    School administration in this region has always been like the academic equivalent of the Old Boy Network … Isn’t that how we got Ramos because the State Ed dept didn’t want him?

    Consider we have a “business” manager who is an ex-Norwalk teacher, not a businessman, a retired athletic director who is overseeing a major construction project, a transportation director who doesn’t even know how to use Garmin, etc. Personnel directors who won’t even handle retirement paperwork.

    Not to mention all the dysfunctional relatives of DTC committee members who have jobs with BOE … Hello Mitch Robles!

    If Vallas as a non-educator can come in and just clean up the non-instructional morass, that will in all likelihood knock out the deficit.

    Let educators teach. Let businesspeople run the business aspects. Seems like Vallas is off to a good start.

  5. Grin Reaper, I totally agree with you, we’ll see but that was just my short-time assessment of 5 minutes. That’s why I mention New Orleans to him twice because he didn’t have to answer to anyone there.

  6. The desire to turn the school system upside down in Bridgeport has existed for years. Many of the people wanting to see it participate in this forum.

    When the mayor abolished the board of education he was guaranteeing the educational system in the city was going to be turned upside down–whether that was his intention or not.

    If Mayor Finch’s decision stands on the school system, decisions on the system will be made by Vallas. There may be some input, but it was put in his hands. It is almost like the financial review board 20 years ago running the city when it went bust. What happens may or may not be what the mayor or the community says it wants.

    Somebody else will eventually run the educational system. Vallas was brought in to change it. You probably won’t be able to evaluate the changes until after Vallas is gone.

    While this card game over education is going on, you might want to be watching the mayor’s charter review commission on both civil service and education.

    The mayor and allies have control of the political system. He should be able to run whatever changes he wants to run past the electorate. Unless, of course, the budget blows up.

    1. JC, great observation: “you might want to be watching the mayor’s charter review commission on both civil service and education.”

      The commission was announced by Adam Wood at the Ordinance Committee last evening. When questioned Wood indicated the City had received about ten communications from citizens offering service. I offered my service to the Mayor by a hand-delivered letter and with emails attaching the same to each of my Council representatives. No acknowledgement from any party has been forthcoming. OIB writers have advised me not to expect such an appointment, but I have been made aware in the past 24 hours of at least three other persons who offered their services, Democrat, Independent and Republican, male and female, Caucasian and African American and all active civically locally. Perhaps other OIB posters might indicate whether you put your hat in the ring to see how many people the Mayor ignored to get to the selected seven? To the extent these meetings are published and public, that should not be a big problem in terms of keeping track of dialogue and direction.

      By the way, if you go to the City of Bridgeport Mayor’s home page, there is a link on the left to 2011 CERTIFIED (sic) Annual Financial Report (CAFR). The report title is actually (and has been for years) Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, but when a person does not bother to read the contents, putting the correct title on the Mayor’s home page accurately is problematic, I guess.

      What are the subjects you would like reviewed, discussed, researched as to quality practices working in other communities beyond civil service and control of education? What can we do about broken processes around Boards and Commissions, fiscal watchdogs who run away, long-term financial planning not observed, unbalanced budgets, and ordinance or Charter rules that have been passed but are not observed??? What are your favorites? Time will tell.

  7. Callahan,
    My point exactly … Bridgeport needed the Financial Review Board because it made the smart decisions the politicians would not.

    When did a lot of our problems start back up … After Ganim got out from under the Review Board.

    That’s why I like the state takeover. Previous BOE and superintendents were a farce. That’s why I like what I hear about Vallas.

    It can’t be worse!

  8. Timpanelli and the BOE Audit. U cazz’.

    I don’t trust Vallas. I don’t trust the BOE. I don’t trust the state to do the right thing.

    Until I am proven otherwise, I will contend that Vallas was ‘hand-picked.’

    70% of our kids drop out. We are not getting a bang for our buck. That’s the obvious problem. The problem that is not so obvious are the contracts for goods and services. To whom. Why and what relationship do the successful ‘bidders’ have with local politics? There is a lot of money being spent. Vallas … impress me.


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