Weldon To City Council: Without Funds State Takeover Beckons

School board chairman John Weldon, right, looks on as school chief Aresta Johnson addresses City Council budget committee.

Board of Education Chairman John Weldon delivered a sobering declaration to the City Council’s Budget And Appropriations Committee Thursday night: “If the Council does not provide what’s needed to open our doors this year it is quite possible that we will be forced to turn the school system over to someone else who can make it work.” Translation: state takeover.

Weldon’s remarks:

So, here we are again. I was here last week, and here last year, to ask that you consider increasing your investment in Bridgeport Public Schools.

I was disheartened to view a video of a meeting of this committee a few days ago where council members complained that, no matter how much is given to Bridgeport Public Schools, it will never be enough. I was disheartened to hear council member say we have no accountability and that that it’s anybody’s guess where our money is spent. The reality is, we are the most transparent entity of the City. Our financial and other metrics are available for all to view on our website and we provide detailed financial information directly to you every year and expand on it whenever asked.

Just last week, a council member asked for BOE information from the City’s computerized accounting system (MUNIS) to be provided in excel. While the BOE staff member presenting the information had an uncertainty of the ability to do that, within a day of the Superintendent’s return to the office, it was provided, as requested, in excel.

As for increased contribution never being enough, I’ll say this: Last year, you provided a $1.2M increase to the BOE. While we are appreciative of that ($1.2M is $1.2M and is not to be scoffed at) it needs to be put into perspective that $1.2M is roughly four-tenths of one percent of our $245M budget–Four-tenths of one percent.

Our current request is for $11.5M, which represents a 4-1/2% increase, which can be attributed to simple inflation. Regardless, it needs to be stated that much of our year-over-year increases are due to city labor contracts which cover BOE employees and that contain wage increases for those employees that the City negotiates exclusively and encumbers the BOE without providing the BOE the financial wherewithal to honor them. The result is, to cover those city-imposed increased labor costs, we have to cut in other areas. By way of example, council members said last year that we were top heavy, so we gutted Central Office, which now runs on a skeleton crew.

We cut assistant principals, literacy and math coaches, and others. In the end, 231 people (roughly 10 percent of our workforce) have lost their jobs over the last few years. As a result, the physical operation of Bridgeport Public Schools has become laughable.

Now, there’s talk of a property tax cut to the tune of $4.5M that alternately, could simply be shifted to the school system to help them keep things as they are. As for my own property tax bill of $11,003.00, a reduction in the mil rate would give me $120 savings.

Personally, I’d just as soon have that go toward the school system. I’m sure many others feel the same way.

In closing, I want to reiterate something I said here last week. There is nothing left to cut that would balance our budget in the coming year. We are at the end of the road, and there are no more moves. If the Council does not provide what’s needed to open our doors this year it is quite possible that we will be forced to turn the school system over to someone else who can make it work.

Do you really want to go down in history as the sitting council that relinquished local control of its school system because you refused to provide it with the basics? Think about that. That’s not an empty threat designed to scare anyone, it’s a reality-That is where we are. Please carefully consider what you’re about to do.



  1. John Weldon has zero authority to speak for what the “Board” will do.

    He needs to research the actions of six board members who voted to turnover the BPS to the state BOE in 2011.

    How did that work out? The CT Supreme Court ruled overwhelmingly that the entire turnover/takeover was illegal

  2. What Mr. Weldon really should be asking is does he want to go down in history as the sitting BOE Chairperson who relinquished local control of his school system because he refused to work with all of the members of the BOE. He had members who reached out, were willing to do the work, were willing to represent, were willing to go to any lengths for the district, and he actively divided the membership and promoted the dysfunction that the city council now’s sees as it’s sole reason for not funding the schools. He has spent the entirety of his tenure trying to get rid of, or at least silencing Maria. He is still doing this! His ego won’t allow him to reach out to those who can help. His ego will allow the ship to sink while he patches the holes with his new bylaws.

  3. Ben, I cannot think of a single incident where you,Joe and I planned a sneak attack on the majority.

    The reality is that we were the only board members recommending and acting on programs, initiatives and policies that directly impacted students, parents and staff.

    John Weldon is a worse Chair then Kenneth Moales and Dennis Bradley which says an awful lot.

  4. To quote the late, great Yogi Berra:
    “Deja Vu, all over again”

    What an embarrassment. The taxpayers in 168 other municipalities are tired of funding 70% of BPS cost.
    Mrs. M and I pay Bpt property tax as well as having our state taxes diverted to BPS.

    Who the hell needed the useless flowers Stevie was touting when you can’t fund the schools?

  5. Here we go again. Looks like Ned and City Hall have been talking about saving Bridgeport by way of hedge-fund opportunities for Greenwich again… Maybe a Memorial Day Weekend surprise this year?!

    And: Quit whining, Marshall! Trumbull would still be a hick town sending its children to Bridgeport schools if not for the on-going services and tax-base theft committed by Trumbull, against Bridgeport, with state complicity that started over 60 years ago… Without Bridgeport’s infrastructure and services, there would be virtually significant entity on Trumbull’s grand list… And Trumbull should be sued for running Bridgeport neighborhoods wit all o f the challengeable, illegal border development located to segregate Trumbull from Bridgeport even as our infrastructure were thusly purloined and our quality of life/safety (flooding, traffic) destroyed… The latest example is the cramming of 200+ units of housing on Lindeman Drive — about which Bridgeport Mayoral Candidate Marilyn Moore, as State Senator, should have flagged her Bridgeport constituents even as she sought to prevent this addition to overdevelopment (and added flooding and traffic-safety hazard) to the list of damages incurred by Bridgeport from Trumbull… (Not to mention the added burden on our overburdened sanitation infrastructure… (And where was City Hall on this? And the rest of the Bridgeport delegation?!)

    In the meantime, Candidate Moore needs another plank in her platform concerning legal redress of damages to Bridgeport inflicted by Trumbull, et al… Mayor Ganim should add the same plank, and should put a separate clause concerning SHU in that plank while he’s at it…

    And as for much of the rest of the state, they’ve gotten plenty from Bridgeport — especially in Fairfield County… If all of the virtual/de facto/actual theft and abuse regarding Bridgeport and the rest of the state were added up, Bridgeport would be able to afford gold-plated lockers for all of its public school students… So, Marshall; quit your whining about. Your town needs to get a cumulative bill for tax-base and services theft (+ an on-going tax-sharing settlement) from Bridgeport. And they need to get sued for all of the damage hey caused to Bridgeport by their racist, greed-based development policy based on theft from and abuse of the municipality of Bridgeport…

    1. @Jeff
      Bridgeport, New Haven (where I was born and raised, Hartford, Waterbury have been welfare cities living off the rest of the state for many decades. Quit blaming neighboring towns for your failed government, empty buildings, high crime, etc.
      Development in small towns will occur closest to highways, not in the center of the town. That’s why Trumbull’s development is abutting RT 15, RT8, on RT 25 and on RT111.
      Most of Bridgeport’s missing tax base went to the deep south or overseas not to neighboring towns.
      All that missing manufacturing on the railroad, RT1 and I-95 corridor is not in Trumbull. You won’t find Remington Arms, General Electric, Cosco or even clothing manufacturers such as Mitchell Brothers in Trumbull….hell they moved production to Elloree, SC 50+ years ago.
      Quit blaming your neighbors, who pay for Sewer treatment by Bpt, who deal with your crime moving north across the town lines, etc.
      Even more, quit attacking me, My wife and I pay property tax in Bridgeport and have no voice ion how your corrupt government spends our dollars.

      1. I agree don’t attack Mr Marcus. I’m sure he’s willing to make a trade. Mr. Marcus are you willing to build and relocate a Major hospital in Trumbull? How about a waterfront jail for minors? What about taking one of our courthouses? Care to increase your share of affordable housing? Want a few halfway house? Want our trash burning facility? We’ll gladly exchange those for some taxpayer property.

        If the suburbs did their fair share of taking on “undesirable” land use Bridgeport’s tax base would be higher.

        What day you Mr. Marcus can you add this fair share compromise to the agenda in Trumbull? I promise if Trumbull does it’s fair share they won’t have to pay more taxes for Bridgeport education.

        1. @Joseph S
          I’d personally welcome a major hospital in Trumbull (with all its employment and ancillary business thrown off). Since the 1960s hospitals are not built by municipalities in most cases, by by corporations. When Yale Health decided to add a multi million cancer center, they didn’t add on to Bridgeport Hospital which they own, they built Smilow Cancer Hospital Center in Trumbull.
          We have group homes in Trumbull.
          I’d love a Superior Court location in Trumbull, but the state is closing locations not building new ones.
          Developers threaten affordable housing all the time in small towns, but those who need it don’t want to live where there is little or no public transit and the GBTA keeps cutting service in Trumbull (which stops Bridgeport residents from getting to existing and new jobs in Trumbull and Monroe.
          Since you can’t afford the three principals at Fairchild Wheeler, maybe you want to give that 48 acres back to Trumbull, and start paying real market rates for the Trumbull land PAL occupies on Quarry Road………………………
          I spent hundreds of days in the BPS, the past 4 years and saw the mismanagement and waste. Cafeteria managers dumping unopened cartons of in-date food instead of serving it to the students. Untold thousands of brand new Math in Focus workbooks gathering dust because of constant curriculum changes. Fran was a terrible administrator in Hamden (I used to live there) and did a poor job in Bridgeport. Johnson was not allowed to improve the system in her short tenure.
          But the Bridgeport hand is outstretched seeking more and more funds from the residents of the rest of the state.
          How many times did it take to elect City Council members to replace Tom McC? How many AB scandals take place in Bpt? Why run a Stratford resident for State Rep and have a Trumbull resident on your Civil Service Commission?
          Bridgeport needs to clean up its act.
          BTW, Joseph….I’d like equal funding of all public education statewide, paid for by state tax dollars (even with an increase) and not by local property taxes.

  6. Does the school board ever do anything to help the kids? It seems like all they ever do is bitch n complain and stop the Superintendent from doing her job. No wonder she’s leaving. Can’t blame ya Doc……. Weldon seems like a moron and the only competent member is Maria and no one seems to listen to her. If any of you gave a shit about the kids instead of bickering among yourselves, maybe you would be taken seriously. Oh by the way, The city could give you 8 Million tomorrow and it STILL WOULD NOT BE ENOUGH!!!!!!!!!

    1. You are correct sir the city could give our children 8 million dollars more and it still won’t be enough to cover the 11.5 million needed to cover the budget shortfall. Only 8 million dollars would lead to3.5 million dollars in cuts to be made.

    1. Someone just asked me today if this was part of a plan to advocate for a state takeover. I said it could very well be.

      The boycott orchestrated by Dennis Bradley, Fran Rabinowitz, and the Ganim administration was absolutely designed to encourage a state takeover.

      Fran Rabinowitz, Joe Larcheveque, Dennus Bradley,Dave Hennessey , our then lawfirm Shipman & Goodwin attended a meeting with Commissioner Wentzel, state Department of Education attorneys, members of the state Board of Education, the Director of CT Associations of Boards of Education and their attorney, and the Director of CT Superintendents in which Fran Rabinowitz and our school board members were pleading for a state takeover.

      Malloy and the SBOE were burnt so badly with the illegal takeover in 2011 they firmly declined.

      It was shortly after that that Dave Hennessey resigned. Fran Rabinowitz knew it was over at that point.

      It is important to know that Sauda Baraka, Howard Gardner and John Bagley were critical to getting Fran Rabinowitz the Interim Superintendent position. I was not on the Board in 2014. They became completely opposed to Fran Rabinowitz by early 2015 because of her political scheming. Remember, her first cousin was Superintendent Connelly who is quite close to Mario Testa. When Mario or Finch wanted something done they would utilize Connelly to influence decisions made by Fran Rabinowitz.

      We need honest brokers advocating for what is in the best interest of our students not themselves. That is the challenge we have been repeatedly faced with when you look at Dr. Salcedo, Dr. Ramos, Paul Vallas and Fran Rabinowitz. In my opinion, Dr. Aresta has been the only Superintendent that has been driven by what was in the best interest of children in the last 20 years.

      1. This take over was in the making back when Barbra Bellinger was the BBOE President, she always had a 6 to 3 voting majority for every vote but she asked to have the BBOE to be disband and for the State to take over.

  7. Frank, there are school board members that truly care about children, and they demonstrate it through their actions not rhetoric.

    John Weldon’s loyalty to those he cut a deal with to become Chair. Danny Roach orchestrated it and he his beholden to Mario Testa and Joe Ganim.

    Many people do listen to me which is what drives those loyal to the corrupt leadership of the city nuts! If I was just a gadfly that no one paid attention I wouldn’t get under their skin. Someone told me that the DTC believes if they can block me from being elected to any position that I will disappear. I asked what idiots honestly think that? I’m not tired after 10 years.

    Your right, 8 million would not be enough because Hartford spends over $19,000 per child, New Haven spends over $18,000 per child, and Bridgeport spends a little over $14,000 per child.

    If we just multiplied the current number of Bridgeport students with the $19,000 per pupil Hartford spends, we would receive an additional $109;000,000 per year on day one.

    Our students are no less deserving than those of Hartford and New Haven.

  8. I am sitting at the Saturday B & A Committee meeting

    When I arrived at 8:55 AM there were already 10 members of the public in a prayer circle praying loudly that the lord remove any elected official that does not support OUR children.

    We are packed like sardines in the Legislative Conference Room . There is not adequate space and seating to accommodate the public in violation of the FOIA. There are about 25 members of the public hear which is great! Every member of the public in attendance are here on behalf of funding our public schools!

  9. At the end of the day John Weldon is correct. The city’s finances have been used for political gain by a mayor and the chairman of the party committee that engineered his re-election after serving seven years of a nine-year sentence for racketeering and corruption. Joe Ganim neglected the people of the city of Bridgeport for more than a year while pursuing the foolish notion he would be the future governor.

    Now he and his handpicked inner circle have received pay raises at the expense of city tax payers AND the children attending public schools in the city. The state Department of Education should be brought in.

    1. No, Derek, the state should not be brought in.

      Starving urban school districts is purposeful because this is what White elitists want.

      They purposefully starve urban school districts and watch them deteriorate so that they can then point there finger and say ” your schools are failing,” therefore bureaucrats in Hartford, backed by elitist millionaires and billionaires ,call for a takeover.

      You see it has nothing to do with what is best for children. State takeovers and unelected school boards are critical to the complete privatization of public schools with a massive expansion of Charter $chools.

      I dare anyone to post an example of a state takeover anywhere in this country that translated to better outcomes for urban school students.

      It has never worked and it has never meant to positively impact the trajectory of innocent children’s lives. State takeovers are about $$$, the privatization of public Education, the dismantling of unions, and the disenfranchisement of people of color to have local control over their own communities.

      It is incredibly elitist as white saviors believe they will ride into impoverished urban communities on their white horses and save those uneducated, poor, minorities. “We know what is best for you” is their mantra.

      State takeovers have always worked the way they were meant to. They marginalize the very people they claim to be helping, and that is exactly how it is supposed to work.

  10. @Marshall Marcus, the only crime that belongs to Bridgeport is the crime that is committed in Bridgeport. There’s no way in hell that any crime committed in Trumbull belongs to Bridgeport. That’s a typical Trumbull response.

    1. @Donald
      When a crime originates in Bridgeport, say a decision by two persons to go steal a car (that is conspiracy) and they cross a town line and steal the car in another town, it’s a Bridgeport crime as well as a crime committed in the second town.
      If a crime is committed in Bridgeport and the apprehension takes place in another jurisdiction (perhaps a hot pursuit) that’s a Bridgeport crime.
      I have not commented about crimes occurring outside Bridgeport committed by Bridgeport residents. Those acts would not be Bridgeport crime.

  11. The B & A Committee made a recommendation to decrease police OT by $750,000 on Thursday.

    So Chief AJ Perez and LT. Cotto came to speak on their budget. The fear mongering they perpetuated was terrible.

    Maria Zambrabo asked Chief Perez how many positions has the BPD netted after resignations and retirements. He seemed to indicate over 30 however there was additional number of 27 and 24 referenced. He could not articulate why OT could not be reduced if there were 24-30 more police officers on the book.

    His answer was a rambling mess that did not answer Maria’s on point question.

    Denise Moyer stressed no one would choose focusing on a child learning over providing them with a “safe environment. ” The police incarcerate children who do not get an adequate education.

    I have been to all three B & A Public Hearings on the Budget. Every single speaker has spoken in favor of funding our public schools. Not a single speaker spoke in favor of funding the BPD, Public Facilities, our Parks, and more.

    Defilippo is on the B & A Committee and did not attend a single Public Hearing to hear from his constiuents, taxpayers, parents and more. I approached him to ask him if he thought it appropriate to serve on the B & A Committee and not attend a single Public Hearing. He said “I know your gig is education.” I said ” my gig?” He looked uncomfortable and his cheeks became flushed.

    Defilippo, Moyer, and Herron were fighting to put the $750,000 of Police OT back into the OT Budget will likely be over $5,000,000 where Chief Perez will overspend by another $2,000,000 with no consequences.

    We had to shift chairs in the room and I heard Pete Spain to help shift chairs to the other side of the room. Defilippo responded with “fuck you.” I am not kidding.

    1. The typical “flushed cheeks” reaction from Defilippo. The real estate mogul/ landscaper/ potential liquor store owner
      Councilman And Mario’s bartender has only one reason for being on the council and that is to only do Mario’s bidding. He is an uneducated buffoon and will try to Hide that by his silence. When he opens his mouth when challenged he gets himself into a jam and his ignorance comes out. His connection with his boss enabled him to use the system to “FIX” issues to benefit himself and trample over others. Google his name and add “Fairfield arrest” or “Fairfield citizen” and read about his arrest for what was basically a hate crime against someone who he asked “are you Jewish?” When the victim responds “yes” Defilippo assaulted him and then hid in the bushes until Fairfield police found him and arrested him. Another arrest was in Stamford for smashing a bottle over a mans head. That got him arrested for a 2nd degree FELONY. All public record, all on the internet including a mug shot. This is the problem in Bridgeport. Many people in positions of “Power” who should not be there!!!!
      . At least his true colors are starting to show. A little verbal confrontation is all it takes and that’s how he reacts.
      More to come……

  12. @Marshall Marcus, that was another typical Trumbull response where you try to justify your first typical Trumbull response. It appears as if you’re saying while I pay taxes in Bridgeport, Trumbull would be better served if you Bridgeport people stayed the hell out of our city and keep Your crime in your city! OUR CRIME? It doesn’t matter how you try to explain your responses of enmity between Bridgeport and Trumbull.

    1. @Donald
      Don’t try to suppose what I am trying to say. I am explicit in my choice of words. I don’t post typical anything responses. I didn’t say that Bridgeport people should stay out of Trumbull. Reference my comments about GBTA cutting bus service that allows Bridgeport people to reach jobs in Trumbull. I have no emnity for Bridgeport, I detest your politicians and their irregularities. I wouldn’t want an ex-con running my town. L we read about is one scandal after another in Bridgeport and its government and Police. The kids don’t get their schooling funded but thousands of flowers can be planted.
      I am not a lifelong Trumbull resident, I arrived here about 15 years ago when I married someone who already lived here. I am city born, bred and educated. I did not participate in White flight during the 60s but stayed in New Haven public schools during the worst of the race riots. Until Bridgeport government cleans up its act I will continue to object to giving them handouts. Other towns don’t pay town council members, why should Bridgeport give stipends?

  13. @Marcus, I never supposed what you were saying in fact I agree with most that you alluded to with respect to the problems the beset Bridgeport, with one glaring exception. “Quit blaming your neighbors, who pay for Sewer treatment by Bpt, who deal with your crime moving north across the town lines, etc.”

    The crime that happens in Trumbull isn’t nor has ever been Bridgeport’s crime irrespective of who committed said crime. Marcus that’s kind of elitist irrespective of where you grew up or how long you went to public school.

    1. @Donald
      You just don’t understand what I posted. A crime planned in Bridgeport by two or people is a conspiracy under the law which can be prosecuted in Bridgeport and/or an arrest of the conspirators made by Bridgeport police even if the planned crime is not carried out or occurs in another municipality.
      A suspect fleeing from a crime in Bridgeport and apprehended in Trumbull will be charged with the Bridgeport crime. It is not uncommon for these fleeing criminals to be stopped after a chase into other towns.
      There is nothing elitist about these facts of law. I gave up 2 1/2 years of my life and many thousands of dollars going to law school and earning my J.D. degree. I volunteer as a Guardian ad litem in the Juvenile Courts. The law is nuanced and not always fully understood by the public which is why I choose my words carefully,
      Nowhere have I posted that Bridgeport residents come to Trumbull to commit crimes. I posted about crimes committed in Bridgeport (either conspiracy or actions) that cross town lines either for completion or escape.

  14. Bridgeport Rising: And the state is a highly-functional, efficient, well-directed, enlightened entity at this point in time?! The state is a bigger joke than Bridgeport. All that the state would do is raise Bridgeport taxes to impose half-assed state ideas on Bridgeport… (Right now, the state exists primarily to serve Stamford-Greenwich/the Gold Coast, and a few elitist suburbs. That’s why the state, as a whole is dying… Connecticut is functioning much like any other Third-world entity — the bulk of the population losing ground in deteriorating conditions to maintain primacy/affluence for a small area/small segment of the population (don’t worry Marshall — Trumbull is elite too!). The last thing that Bridgeport needs is for the state to insert its half-assed influence into our existing troubles… The Keystone Cops coming to the rescue of F-Troop!…


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