Vallas’ Evaluation On Tap For School Board Meeting, Public Hearing Expected To Be Scheduled

Paul Vallas
Will Paul Vallas be offered and accept a longer-term contract?

UPDATE: A special meeting of the Board of Education is scheduled for Wednesday (today), 6 p.m. in Conference Room 305 of City Hall, 45 Lyon Terrace to discuss Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas’ mid-year evaluation. A spokesperson for Vallas says the original notice for a meeting Tuesday night was issued in error on the school board website. The school board is expected to set a date for a public hearing to receive input from citizens regarding Vallas’ evaluation as the school board weighs a contract extension offer.

On one side you have Democrats who control a thin 5-4 margin on most BOE votes, Jacqui Kelleher, Hernan Illingworth, Kenneth Moales, Tom Mulligan and Leticia Colon. They are generally opposed by three members of Connecticut’s Working Families Party, Sauda Baraka, Maria Pereira and John Bagley, joined by renegade Democrat Bobby Simmons.

Last month Vallas told OIB:

“In August, I declined the request of the State appointed Board of Education to extend my contract beyond June of 2013. I made this choice as I believed that ultimately the decision should be left to the returning elected Board. That said, I do believe deeply in the need to sustain the positive steps we have taken to improve Bridgeport Schools. With this in mind, I would be open to discussing staying beyond June should the current Board decide that this would be in the best interest of Bridgeport’s students and community at large.”

When Vallas was recruited to Bridgeport at the urging of Connecticut Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor more than a year ago following state control of city schools now back in local control, it was billed as a short-term measure to stabilize the deeply troubled school system, institute reforms and set the table for a long-term school chief.

As school districts go, Bridgeport is small by comparison to the Philadelphia, Chicago and New Orleans systems Vallas supervised, but the city has become something of a national incubator for the numerous similarly sized districts from around the country. It’s a model Vallas may want to play out for awhile. A number of positive of initiatives are underway, some that began before Vallas’ arrival such as construction of a regional magnet high school near the Trumbull line off the Route 25-8 Connector, as well as positive steps on his watch such as school safety measures, relationships with area universities, formation of a first responders program and progress toward construction of a desperately needed new Harding High School.

Vallas’ detractors say he cuts corners on issuing contracts to education vendors, spends too much time away from the district for his other education initiatives around the country and lacks the transparency required for such a troubled district.

One thing’s for sure, Mayor Bill Finch and the majority on the school board want Vallas to stay while the school board’s minority opposition prefer making life difficult for Vallas. Stay tuned.

More on the BOE:

Political and government analyst Jonathan Pelto shares his take on things here.



  1. If Vallas is the best super our dollars can buy, why is it he isn’t on top of the list of Superintendent Search Consultants. Was Vallas found or discovered by a SSC or just merely handpicked by Mayor Bill Finch? Let a professional recruit or identify the best School Superintendent our money can buy. Click on the link and get a clue as to how to start:

    1. Flub~ The Twelfth of Never. Look at the gig he has going on. Lots of pesos, contracts with the city for his “esteemed” software product (albeit inappropriate to our needs) and on-going ties to other cities he “fixed.” It looks good for Vallas revenue-wise, as somehow he is setting himself up to look like a scarce commodity.

      Maybe he has some good ideas, possibly he could make some of them stick. But ultimately it’s a good deal for him as it is, and as it would be for me. I would never take a full-time gig if I were getting what he is getting for the current results I am producing.

      You know the line … it’s not personal, blah, blah blah.

  2. *** What’s he been here now, about two years? Still much too early to see any type of real turnaround, good or bad! I propose another two years before pulling the plug on this act, no? *** ONE NEVER KNOWS, DO ONE? ***

  3. BlackRockGuy,
    I really like people who can talk about money, so let’s think about it …
    When Vallas got here last year there was no budget left by our previous Superintendent. No budget approved by the City Council, no way to get money from the ‘city treasury.’ OK?
    So Vallas’ team puts a “balanced budget” together along with a plan running out five years. All that was required was a little more money from the State, a little more from the City, some creative purchasing initiatives and the City side taking over some non-academic responsibilities, etc. What was blocking Ramos from doing this? Was there a problem with Ben Barnes in the education budget office? A problem on the City finance side? Who knows? But the new guy got it done and it was necessary.
    And he saw capital expenses from the State for new schools and renovations were getting new formulas that would cause Bridgeport to spend a greater percentage of dollars in the future, so he moved projects onto the boards for approval and major State funding, because there is no money in the city treasury.
    And 365 days ago we had the annual Comprehensive Annual Financial Review from Blum Shapiro and saw 2011 had proven to be a deficit year for the City (not the surplus declared by Mayor Finch in his last run). But who reads CAFRs? Not most taxpayers! Not a good number of City Council members I suggest! Not the CT Post last year, anyway! But this year we don’t even have a CAFR yet, and we should have. Is there a reason for this delay? Is there ever a reason (excuse) for City financial reports not appearing on time or at all? Time will tell.


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