The Supremes Must Make A Decision On City Schools

The Connecticut Supreme Court will decide if the state takeover of city schools, with a newly appointed board, is legal. Dethroned school board members, candidates for school board and parents claim the decision to terminate local control has caused disenfranchisement. Lawyers for the plaintiffs and defendants have made their legal pitches to the state’s highest court. Hopefully the Supremes will sort all of this out sooner rather than later without creating more questions than answers.

Bob Trefry, Judith Bankowski, Kenneth Moales Jr., Michelle Black Smith-Tompkins, Jacqueline Kelleher, David Norton and Hernan Illingworth comprise the state-appointed board that’s moving forward with running city schools with one eye on the Supremes. It’s difficult to implement policies, hire a new superintendent of schools (current chief John Ramos is on his way out) and finalize long-term strategy if they don’t know they’ll be around to see things through.

Still, the business of managing schools advances. Board member Hernan Illingworth, chair of “Community Engagement,” has been hosting a listening tour to hear what parents, teachers, administrators and students have to say. They’re not official meetings so quorums are not required, according to board members. It’s not easy assembling the entire BOE for regular afternoon listening tour sessions so the goal is for at least two board members to be in attendance.

Two big short-term questions: who will be selected the next school super? and what additional financial role will the state take? The school system is approaching the halfway point of its beleaguered budget year with city bean counters looking to prepare next year’s budget the first quarter of 2012.

The BOE’s next official committee meeting, the Student Achievement Committee, is today (Monday) 3:30 in room 305 of City Hall, 45 Lyon Terrace. The next full board is Dec. 12th.



  1. Well, as it relates to the next Super, Trefry said it should be someone with a strong academic and curriculum focus … One name comes to mind, Dr. Sonia Diaz (formerly Salcedo) … One thing is clear, since Ramos took the helm, the results we experienced prior to him began to dwindle … Maybe we bring her in on a contract to reform the system to produce the academic results she delivered … She is brilliant and has strong connections in the educational arena …

    1. Sonia Diaz-Salcedo currently serves as Executive Vice President for Curriculum and Assessment for the Center for Educational Leadership and Technology based in Marlborough, Massachusetts.
      Nice lady but she couldn’t cut it as the Superintendent of Schools. She left Bridgeport and ended up in Arizona or New Mexico and got canned there.
      Took some admin spots in Miami and Baltimore and is now with a private think tank.

  2. *** Only thing needed is complete change from top to bottom, including the city BOE members. Revamp old policies & procedures, complete the financial audit, reduce admin. top-heavy positions, listen to ideas from the teachers & parents. Also increase school security at needed areas even if just on a part-time basis & make the parents more accountable concerning their children’s education. Last but not least, no more long contracts with lifetime medical benefits for the new hires, no? *** REAL CHANGE IS NOT ALWAYS WELCOMED, BUT SOMETIMES NEEDED. ***

  3. What is happening around finances and education of youth in Bridgeport? Anyone??? BOE Chair Trefry has indicated he was also Chair of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council at the time the “audit” was initiated. That “audit” has been funded by Bridgeport and State of CT taxpayers over the four years as well as funds from the BRBC. Three swings at completing the audit have been taken, each with their own recommendations, actions to be taken, etc., but still with a balance of work to be completed. Perhaps Chairperson Trefry can tell us when the current work effort will be complete??? And then maybe the Executive Summaries of each stage can be posted on the Bridgeport Education web site, indications of recommendations completed, currently in motion as well as those not likely to be implemented, can be published, along with a single page financial report of the revenues expended by whom, to whom and when. It has been a long process and no one seems to be able to say whether we are any better off because of the studies than we were before they began.

    How about an update about the current year’s budget and how long the City and State funding will last? Wasn’t that a major issue? Only enough funds were provided to keep the schools open for a limited time period, and then???

    Finally, regarding timing of funds: I have been told State of CT educational cost-sharing funds are provided on a schedule several months apart rather than monthly as salaries and other expenses fall. Is part of the City tax anticipation note activity due to educational funding? And how does the physical presence of a youthful body in a chair, daily, during one week, or during one month, or most of the time affect the funding provided by the State? Last week Public Access TV showed a meeting of a committee that is studying the ECS formula and other issues dealing with equal opportunity for any and all CT residents. Time will tell.

  4. They elected the wrong person in Derby but for a middle initial.
    Maybe Finch’s name on the ballot was spelled wrong.
    Go for it, Jeff. Demand a recount!!!

  5. Reaper–her downfall was because she was a strong-minded woman who didn’t take BS from anyone … her contract was not renewed here only because the “community” felt she was too strong on kids because of her ZERO-tolerance policies, which resulted in many arrests when fights and physical disturbances happened … Guess what, two years after she is gone and Ramos goes soft, riots and brawls break out at the high schools …

    Her management style may have been strong and tough, but when it comes to academics, she is the expert. Hence why she led Curriculum and Academics in Miami and Baltimore, two MAJOR school districts …

    Oh and NM only ousted her because she fired cabinet-level staff and brought in two Bridgeport people with her and the Mexican community had an uproar that this Puerto Rican Woman was taking control …

    If you ask me, we need her now more than then … Someone who is an expert at academics, takes control and isn’t controlled …


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