Vallas’ Performance Evaluation, Possible Contract Vote, On Monday School Board Agenda

The battle for control of the Board of Education continues Monday (tonight) with a scheduled special meeting for “Discussion and Possible Action Regarding Superintendent’s Performance Evaluation,” according the school board agenda. The meeting will take place 6:30 p.m. in City Hall, Conference Room 305, 45 Lyon Terrace. The nine-member school board is split with four of its members declaring opposition to extending school chief Paul Vallas’ contract while a slim majority of five is poised to offer him a new deal. Vallas says he’ll stay on another year if an offer is made. Will the majority of five hold up?

Three Working Families Party school board members Maria Pereira, Sauda Baraka and John Bagley claim Vallas is not fit to remain as school chief. Renegade Democrat Bobby Simmons has generally joined them as an opposition bloc to Vallas initiatives including his proposal to build a new Harding High School on property owned by General Electric on Boston Avenue. The city has entered into an agreement with General Electric that is pending approval by the City Council.

Democrats on the school board Jacqui Kelleher, Ken Moales, Tom Mulligan, Hernan Illingworth and Leticia Colon say they like the progress made under Vallas. School board meetings have become a battle of attrition, particularly at the committee level, as WFP members attempt strategically to extend meetings deep into the night with anticipation that a member or two of the majority voting bloc departs the meeting for family and work obligations. Kelleher, a professor at Sacred Heart University, chairs the full board meetings. Critics of the WFP tactics claim Kelleher has been overly diplomatic in reaching out to board members who’ll oppose under any circumstances. So how Kelleher chairs the meeting tonight is key to whether Vallas’ contract is voted on and extended, put off for another day, or possibly defeated.

The majority of five is a fragile existence that at times has been outmaneuvered by WFP school board members.

The second agenda item Monday night is “Discussion and Possible Action Regarding Employment and/or Election/Appointment and Superintendent’s Contract.” This item, according to the agenda, could go into executive session.

Either way, Monday night’s school board session could end up as a Monday Night Fight. Reserve your seats.

Vallas is being judged by this evaluation.

(Editor’s note: video above was filmed and produced by Jessica Martinez, a parent member of Parents 4 Progress that has come out in support of Vallas.)



    1. Vallas did get a forgivable loan to close the budget gap that existed when he came. A forgivable loan is the same as a grant. There was also the ING grant and wish grant teachers could apply for to get what they need.
      The city has an attendance policy every employee follows. The policy states any more than three sick occurrences in six months are unacceptable. Three sick days or more in a row and you need a doctor’s note to insure it is safe for you to return to work. Teachers just need to follow the same policy every other employee does, downtown bullies or not. Personal days are ‘gifts’ you get for non-sick emergencies. They are not extensions of your vacation time or extra days off. You already only work 185 days a year. Now you want to cut that back to 185, -15 sick, –4 personal for 166? As professionals you should be using them professionally. No one should ever use all their personal days all the time. If you are then you have big personal problems.
      African Americans represent 12% of the population and Hispanics are 16%. If the city plots to hire at a level to purposely get a workforce that is not in line with those numbers that would be racist.
      The guidance and SP.ED. staffing is in line with state law. ‘Nuff said. BPT schools have always had a lot of full-time subs and Teach for America on staff. It is no different than when Ramos was here. The professional development, as well as most of the school year has been interrupted by the weather. Professional development under Ramos was little more than a day off or a coffee klatch/bitch session. At least now there are specific goals to achieve regardless of whose goals they are.
      Let us not forget the cost-saving measure of moving all the 925 teachers back to the classroom. The BOE was top heavy. All the outside audits said that. The old BOE was little more than an old boy network. All you needed to do to get out of the classroom and a cushy job was to support Ramos or be related to someone.
      Vallas has only been doing this for a year and he has almost fixed as much as Ramos screwed up in four. So far Vallas is going better than anyone we have had in a long time.

      1. BOE Spy. Your case seems to look good on paper but let’s see what the drop out rates and test scores do. The schools still seem like dead places with no life afterer class, very uptight atmosphere especially with the uptick in security. The real issue is that too many of our tax dollars go to new construction, destroying park land, increasing our taxes, etc with a continued drop in achievement. Vallas is not doing enough. Put the money in the classroom, not to outside developers who get in and get out and the students don’t prosper

  1. Look, this a DONE DEAL, Democrats on the school board Jacqui Kelleher, Ken Moales, Tom Mulligan, Hernan Illingworth and Leticia Colon have all been given their “MARCHING ORDERS” so they will do only what they have been told to do, or else …

  2. *** Looking at the Supt. evaluation sheet still leaves one puzzled as to what Vallas has done or not, no? And as usual, those who live outside of Bpt but earn theie money here have the most to say and lose seems like! Is it really about the kids or is it about politics, money, making workers accountable who are set in their personal ways or just plain anti-Finch everything! In the long run regardless of who goes, comes or stays the city’s school system is doomed to take one step forward and two steps back like they always do! Why, ’cause in the end it’s really never about the kids, it’s about me type of mentality in Bpt. *** LOST CITY ***

  3. The evaluation is a 5-6 page document, developed very recently that supposedly rates Vallas. (Normally that should have been done when he started, now he is measured against goals set after the fact.) It has a scoring card of 1-4 for each measure. One of the most basic measures, student performance, won’t be known until CAPT & CMT results come out in late summer.

  4. Dave,
    Unless someone wants to show some hard evidence alternative to comments above, Bridgeport is a community that doesn’t really evaluate employee or leader (in so many cases) performance in a regular, comprehensive, fair to all concerned manner that is known in advance. This was a topic with the past Superintendent who got contract extensions but terms of evaluation were unknown or perhaps unknowable.

    Paul Vallas did not get here because a Bridgeport BOE selected him. Did the group or individual who did the selection have goals and tasks in mind? What were they? How has he done relative to them?
    * Fiscal–You may find fault with one or more of the tasks listed but balancing a budget within 6 months of arriving when the district had faced a $18 Million deficit halfway through the school year ending June 30, 2012 is no mean feat. A five-year plan makes it useful and fights annual budget fights and disruptions that had previously been our lot. Securing $3.5 Million from the State, forgivable under conditions, was another area no one previously had demonstrated credibly. Open, accountable, transparent and accurate reporting and display of fiscal reality, including grants has been a reality in public schools as different as night and day from previous years.

    * Personnel: The solution to Bridgeport’s public school fiscal crisis reported in the CT Post was termination of 200 employees, and the majority would be teachers. Ultimately three teachers moved on as alternative positions for which they were qualified left. Significant numbers of additional qualified African American and Latino teachers are in the system this year according to info supplied by Vallas responding to Board member questions at the final evaluation Q&A meeting. Attention to teacher attendance is important since some in the System have used their storehouse of “sick days” to pave a career change, rather than to provide income when they are not healthy, not working, and otherwise would be without income. When a teacher is out of the classroom, or a student is out of the classroom, important days are lost to that student’s education.
    * And beyond … it’s a long list. And many things are work in progress from where I sit. It is also work that is set under GOAL and TASK headlines.

    Personally, I would vote another year if he will take it. He believes in this plan and someone who believes in it needs to shepherd the different parts to their conclusion, completion, discard or reform. By the way, it may seem off topic, but what are the GOALS and TASKS the BOE members have set themselves? Perhaps they will post them on the Public Schools site? Voters will want to look at them at election time. Time will tell.

    1. I don’t know who is running for Mayor and am not sure if I will be able to remain here … but I hope you consider running for office … you do a great job as a gadfly but we need someone with your meticulous nature in investigated financial statements that are frequently baffling even to people like myself with an MBA.

  5. John, I too would vote for Vallas to have another year if he will take it. Vallas is shaking things up, but is finding it difficult to change a system culture that tolerated lax spending habits, duplication and absenteeism.

  6. Balancing a budget on paper? Avoiding layoffs of 200 people, mostly teachers, according to Ramos and the CT Post? FY 2012 is closed and I know of no one banging on the door of the Bridgeport Public School System looking for payment, do you? (But I am aware of multiple rumors the City payment system to contractors in the past is part of the reason why snow removal arrangements with local owners of heavy duty equipment were slow to assist the City … and the Mayor has not yet reported what he and his team “learned” from the experience and the “venting” by an informed and exercised citizenry that raised multiple issues to him, to the public works officials, and to the City Council members present!)

    “Move on” to what or to whom? What is the problem with staying the course on the plan on the table and monitoring closely the behavior of each of the stakeholders who will contribute to getting our youth educated and our real estate values increasing because of school attractiveness? Time will tell.

  7. You are being fooled and manipulated.

    It is the same “reform” circus happening throughout our country in the poor cities. Ask yourself how are things going in Chicago, Philly and NOLA.

    At the last BOE meeting, Vallas says maybe these cities are not doing well (therefore he is acknowledging they’re not) because he is not there.

    There are three problems with that statement … first, as stated, he admits things are not going well in Philly, Chicago and NOLA, his old stomping grounds. Second, he is telling you his methods are not sustainable. Once he leaves, the chaos he created will not solve the problems on a long-term basis. Third, don’t you find this a little pompous and grandiose?

    Three major cities and their school systems are failing because Paul Vallas is no longer there? Why didn’t he stay long enough to ensure long-lasting results? Why does he pack up, rinse and repeat every 2-3 years? Maybe because this is not reform in the true sense of the word. Maybe because he knows when to get out to make another quick buck somewhere else. He reminds me of Harold Hill in The Music Man.

    Maybe some of you find him likeable … I think he is extremely narcissistic and manipulative. He knows how to “work the room.”

    You also have to wonder why he thinks bringing in more “elite” TFA is going to the solve the problem. More young inexperienced temporary interns with five weeks of training is what’s best for some of the neediest students? Really?

    You must pay a first-year salary and a TFA finders fee, which is more expensive than employing a graduate of a teacher education program who wants to begin a career in teaching and learning. 80% of the TFA’s will be gone in 2-3 years and you will be starting all over again with recruitment, training, evaluating, etc. Paul will be long gone by then.

    TFA also breeds teacher churn. Teacher churn is a way to deprofessionalize teaching. You reduce labor costs if you have them while they’re young … no family health insurance, no time to build up a pension. Reduce the labor costs and funnel the money elsewhere. And if teaching is reduced to test prep and testing then you really don’t need professionals anymore. A great teacher is compliant, confused and controlled.

    He is very good at draining the resources and funneling money to his corporate cronies. It appears his main motivation for staying now is to spite the people who do not worship him. He equates surviving in Bridgeport to his son surviving Afghanistan.

    He stays because no one will ever disparage his image and please please never ever forget it is “all about the kids.”

  8. Read my response below John … I think you have been fooled. Sorry to say a few years from now you will be shaking your head wondering how you were snookered.

  9. No. Vallas is not good for this city. He has the audacity to suggest his three prior gigs are failing ‘because he is not there’ while all the time he proclaims himself a ‘fixer.’ Each of those cities paid Vallas big money to come in and restore their educational systems to a high level of effectiveness. Nobody expected him to stay forever. Rather they expected him to have built a structure that would long endure. Apparently he did not. The next time Vallas arrogantly suggests the systems are failing because he is not there ask the man one question … would any of those failing systems have him back?

    1. No they do NOT want him back … two comments left by NOLA parents on a Louisiana news article are anything but complimentary … this will sound familiar soon:

      Vallas robbed the kids in his direct run schools of the opportunity to choose higher performing schools by not giving them access to school choice under NCLB. He tried to make the Feds think this system of open enrollment was real school choice. He trapped students in his low performing schools so that they would not bring down the performance scores of the RSD’s charter schools. Vallas starved these direct run schools of the supports they desperately needed since they had the most challenging students. Vallas should be brought up on chargers of educational malpractice, not given this glowing send off that is painted in this article. He is the face of disaster capitalism if I have ever seen it. He’s brought in a slew of his friends from around the country and given them big contracts to do basically nothing towards transforming the direct run schools.


      I am a parent of a child in the RSD. In order for most Louisiana readers to relate, let me give this example: Just imagine how it would feel to read a glowing article about BP’s Tony Haywood after the tragic disaster in the Gulf. That is what it feels like to read this article about Paul Vallas, knowing that his time here has been detrimental to the lives and education of thousands of students, teachers, and families. He has failed our city, hurting the most vulnerable citizens .. our future, our children. And THAT is the truth.

  10. *** So far most of the political info, rumors, opinions, etc. on Vallas are “short on actual facts.” Also Philly, Chicago, etc. are far bigger cities with much larger problems compare to Bpt with about a count of 23,000 kids in the entire school system. Mere observation on most of the past Vallas-attempted school repairs in different parts of the country appeared to be “short-term” political solutions for large “long-term” educational problems that probably still remain today if not given the time and continued receipt for success that might have been mapped out by Vallas while there? So when comparing apples to oranges and the habits of changing paddles in midstream by the towns or cities that are willing to hire people like Vallas & Co; then who’s to blame for “continued educational failure?” Was not this city’s educational system and BOE in chaos way before Vallas & Company’s coming here? And is am employee (expectations & evaluation) sheet submitted three months before Vallas is to be reviewed by the BOE for a possible contract extension or not, the way to conduct a professional performance evaluation? Seems like “miracle short-term solutions” for “engraved” long-term educational problems, in a city that’s plagued by political bias feelings throughout its city government has not worked in the past, present nor foreseeable future! *** ROME WAS NOT BUILT IN A DAY BUT WAS BURNED DOWN IN ONE! ***

  11. As a taxpayer I have a reasonable expectation Vallas will provide services that will result in improvements to the Bridgeport educational system and those improvements will be developed in ways that will permit a sustained manner for continued improvement and success. Has Vallas provided me with the improvements I have every reason to expect to have already been implemented? Time to tell is NOW. No?

  12. This makes no sense. If students are not getting educated, the teachers are failing not the super. Try this. Instead of making copies put the info on your smart board or overhead. Then tell the students to take out their notebooks and write it down. In the past all the unions ‘gave back’ to prevent layoffs. All but the teachers. The teachers would not give up February break for the students. Now you are cross with Vallas for not micromanaging your classroom for you and giving you enough. If you are really that unhappy with the administration maybe you should do your talking with your feet.

  13. I have been reading this blog for awhile, but never felt the need to post and it took a little bit of time to get an account. As an outside observer, but a parent and former private school educator, something is not quite right.

    The school system and all of the problems associated with a city with high poverty are in need of long-term solutions and a leader who is willing to stay a long time and make a commitment to the community. Another year or two isn’t going to be enough. You won’t see gains for a few years and there is way too much of a focus on test scores. Is that the only way to measure success?

    Weighing the pig over and over doesn’t change its weight. The kids do not need to be tested, prepped, tested again. This does not happen in private schools and constant testing narrows the curriculum. Where is music, the arts, free-choice reading? Are teachers allowed to innovate and plan creative lessons? Are the kids fed scripted practice for the standardized tests and the future national standards being foisted on the states?

    I really haven’t read anything very innovative about Vallas in the other cities he supposedly reformed. Why are they in need of help again only a few years later? Shouldn’t there be results to measure his past success?

    Why not make an agreement he will stay until the BOE can find a long-term replacement? Find a professional educator, one who has taught for at least ten years, with the proper certification and the desire to live/establish a permanent residence in Connecticut and settle here for awhile.

    No matter what happens it seems Paul Vallas will be gone in a year or two anyway … so you are just delaying the inevitable.

  14. I hope they do throw Vallas out. The same thing will happen as when they got the elected BOE back. It seems BPT only likes things to function in a dysfunctional way. I just sit back and laugh. Bring back Ramos. That is what all the other cities that threw Vallas out did. One of the biggest knocks against Valls is ‘Look at the other cities he was in. How are they now?’ Well, those other cities were doing horribly. Vallas came and made a bunch of changes. They got mad and threw him out, went back to what they were doing before him and now they are horrible again. This is what BPT should do.

    1. Actually, that’s not true if you research and read carefully. He was not thrown out in all of them. He left on his own and claimed success. He was even quoted in one article (I will try to find it) that it was best to get out by year four. So that is not accurate.

  15. *** However many ways are used to solve the problem, it will always equal to the same answer. When you bring in experienced education experts with “short-term solutions” to engraved “long-term problems,” you’re left with nothing but more questions! *** QUESTIONS WITH NO ANSWERS ***

  16. Comments were disabled for the video … Could it be parents4progress have a problem with dissenting opinions? I know they have a problem with telling the truth.

  17. Please please remember how Vallas came to Bridgeport, and please remember all the behind the doors manipulation that caused the BOE to be disbanded in the first place. When the appointed board dismissed Ramos (good move) they were told who the next superintendent would be. This was a very orchestrated move by Malloy, Stephen Pyror and the money from the Zoom Foundation (Meghen Lowney). Finch loved the aoppontment of Vallas calls him a celebrity – how about an educator? That would have been nice.
    Unfilled teaching position are being filled by short term subs….but there is a shortage of them and to fill the day to day absences, those classrooms are being filled by interns….who have had absolutely no time for observation of classroom teachers and have little or no knowledge of the curriculum. More lost learning opportunities for our students.
    I truly believe that parents want people tecahing their children who have a passion for education, have received education degrees, are preparing their BEST portfolios and intend to make teaching their career. Unfortunatly that does not describe the TFA teachers anywhere. It is something for them to put on their resume as addressing the needs of the poor disadvantaged kids.

    Teachers of color? Oh please get off that bandwagon….go look at the population in the schools of educationm, local and throughout the country. The majority of education students are not people of color. So just where will any district recruit teachers of color? I have no idea and neither do you.

  18. Andy,
    You and I have provided names and backgrounds for some time. People can judge our comments as right or wrong, factual or opinionated, off base or on target.
    If I followed all the allegations from Pelto or others, or everything Linda Connor Lambeck has written, or all of anybody else, shoot me. I have had a dinner meal with Paul Vallas after the final Q&A meeting to go over material I wanted to understand better. I continue to see him as Open Accountable and Transparent in what he has put out and how he has answered. He is human. I repeat, we don’t do evaluation in Bridgeport (and I did not mean teachers) but I do mean the culture of government, and that is part of the failure to hold people accountable. So everyone needs to suck it up, and if you are doing it as a teacher, principal, para, nurse, media person, special education, social worker, keep doing it. The people are more aroused than a year ago. Let’s reason together and evaluate Mayor, Council and BOE also. The mechanisms are there. Time will tell.

    I am married to an educator who is very dedicated, buys supplies for her students, works weekends and vacations, and got docked by her BOE when the volcano did not let her return to the US … I understand a lot. That has me looking further. Keep reading. Keep feeding the facts. Time will tell.

    1. Your posts on Vallas have been longer than mine. You have some facts to report. That’s good. But instead of looking at us as two halves of anything (your frame of reference), I think of us as trying to look at a similar scene, mess, educational initiative and draw different conclusions.

      For instance, Stratford is part of a continuum in Fairfield County from Weston or New Canaan to Bridgeport. They are struggling with their population of students to meet new types of goals with new types of accountability and evaluations, and frustration is part of the game today.

      Are teachers posting for fear that businessman Vallas has to deal with union negotiations soon? What is his reputation in that area? That might be a reason for an anti-Vallas movement, right? I am happy you support OATs but it is the first time you have mentioned it.
      I suck it up all the time. Why else would I be devoting all the time, energy and funds, indeed to learn personally, inform others, and be called “pompous” and other less elegant terms? Perhaps your own high horse needs some reining in. Look at the length of your messages denying the current Superintendent additional time to get the plans (that are public), with funding (that is on schedule at this time, despite your doubts about June 30, 2013) and having to direct this through more than 2,000 people who work in the Bridgeport educational establishment. Rome was not built in a day, both of us know. If Paul Vallas is not real, if his plans are bogus, you tell me I will have been snookered. But if he is even partly for real, and if many of those 2,000 work steadily towards best practices as the community reasonably expects (and as so many do), then maybe some of the better results you and I are waiting for will in fact happen. You might want to call me at 203-259-9642 to introduce yourself because a conversation is more nuanced and direct than long memos.

      My City governance education began five years ago. Too much of our civic structure is broken for us to expect great results, and a Charter Reform group last year did not take a serious look at the truly broken parts. OIB and a few other places are where serious discussion can occur. That’s at least a part of what we have been doing, I believe. Take a chance. Education in this community needs to be a lifetime effort for many parts of the community. And if public funds of $12-15,000 annually spent in public schools for 12 or more years is wasted, time will tell.


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