Will Reshaping Education Become Finch’s Legacy?

Every mayor has a legacy, good, bad or indifferent. Mayor Bill Finch is acting like a pol who will have no problem embracing school reform as his legacy. Right now it’s occupying most of his time and will continue at least up to November when voters will likely decide whether school board members will be elected or appointed or perhaps a hybrid of the two as part of charter revision initiatives.

The mayor’s number one advocate in education reform, new schools chief Paul Vallas, began unveiling on Tuesday a series of proposals for school improvement that includes more funding from the city and state. But funding is just one piece of this new vision for city schools. See CT Post story here.

City bean counters are putting the finishing touches on a proposed budget the mayor will submit to the City Council in about four weeks for the budget year beginning July 1. This will be the mayor’s first budget of his second four-year term that began last Dec. 1. This could very well be the budget Finch declares is a first step toward a greater city investment in schools. That would mean a tax increase. The question is how large. But so early in his new term Finch will not be occupied about the ramifications of a tax increase, especially if he rationalizes the school investment. Of course critics will argue that he flatlined school spending for three years, but the mayor will counter that the greater investment comes with a model of reforms established by Vallas who’s setting schools on a new course.

Irrespective of the Supremes invalidating the state takeover of schools, with Vallas in place and a majority vote among either a reconstituted or elected school board, Finch has a chance to make schools his legacy. And when was the last time a mayor could claim that?

And don’t be shocked, however this school board legal fight turns out, if down the road the city asks the state to seize control of schools the conventional way, with the appointment of a special master.



  1. I am really in the cloud on this issue. Appointed vs. Elected. Both systems stink. Nobody but the calamarians vote in this town ensuring year after year the same crap gets to lead us further into the mire. If we ‘appoint’ the BOE then we have to put up with hand-picked shitheads picked by the chief shithead or the shithead mayor.

    Maybe if we had a trustworthy mayor the prospect of an appointed BOE would be palatable. When was the last time we had a trustworthy mayor? Paoletta? Moran could be trusted. She was dumb, though.

  2. Why on earth would we want Mario Testa to hand pick the very people who have to approve the 200+ million dollars the BOE spends on goods and services, especially ‘food service?’

    Mario … we aren’t that stupid. It only takes a little pushing of the voters who don’t vote to run your ass out of town.

  3. Yes, it likely will be his legacy. Whether that is good or bad remains to be seen. If he is able to garner public support and improve the system it will be a positive legacy. If not, education will be to Bill Finch what bankruptcy was to Mary Moran.

  4. Finch’s legacy will be he is the most incompetent and nastiest mayor in modern history. Here is a man who tried to take the voting rights of people away. Here is a man who has not produced a balanced budget since he took office.
    Here is a man who fired people because they would not kiss his ass and he then filled the position with asskissers.
    Here is a man who flatlined the BOE budget for 4 years in a row and now he is trying to say he is the protector of children.
    Here is a man so out of touch with what is going on in the city he must be suffering from CRS (can’t remember shit), otherwise why does he have Adam Peckerwood text him answers when he is in a debate giving a speech. Legacy my ass! Ask Finch to spell it!!!

  5. “Vallas also said there are dollars to be saved in special education. He would increase the student-teacher ratios to national standards and educate more students with special needs in the district instead of sending them to outside programs.”

    Changing a student’s educational setting is a PPT team decision, which by law must include the parents, a sped teacher, a regular classroom teacher and any pupil personnel (SW, Speech, OT, PT, etc.) involved in the student’s instruction, and if requested, a parent advocate or attorney. But I’m sure Mr. Vallas knows that.

    I’m also having difficulty finding national standards for pupil/teacher ratio, but I did find this letter sent to a Stamford parent, which says that in 2009-10, for large urban districts, the average ratio is 12.2, and for Bridgeport it’s 11.5.

    Here’s the link (it’s from an FOI request).

    We have 2 sped teachers with a caseload of about 20 each at our school. We can’t handle any more.

  6. Oh (I always have to have the last word, even with myself), the reason we can’t handle any more is due to the hours mandated on a student’s IEP.

    Sometimes a sped teacher has to cover 6-8 classes on 3-4 different grade levels, and has students with daily hours (some are up to 7.5) a week of push-in (mainstream) class time for both reading and math in each class.

    In addition, the same students might have resource room time for specialized instruction (some also up to 7.5 a week. They can’t be pulled from specials like gym or library.

  7. People say the mayor’s children were in Read middle school during his campaign, and now that he won his children are in the Discovery school.

    Kind of messed up in my view, my kids are in Hooker school and not in Discovery.

    Hope my vote counts more than my kids do in Bpt.

    1. Chosen 1,
      I work for the BOE. Last I heard, at least one of Finch’s kids is still at Read. I often see both boys getting off the bus together, so I assume they both may still be at Read. My children also go/went to Hooker!

  8. The Board of Education had a Retreat day at SHU yesterday that allowed Paul Vallas to share his overall plan for school improvement with the Board and for the Board to question and understand the entirety of the scope. In addition a draft budget for the current year and for 2012-13 was available showing the extensive re-working of the current situation integrating the school improvement plans with the financing of them from multiple sources. A new body would be created to receive funding from foundations and other grantors and spend it on programs that would assist the education process system-wide and for years into the future. More details to follow. The budget should be ready for a vote around March 26.
    Mayor Finch, Paul Timpanelli, Linda Connor Lambeck (CT Post) and a TV12 camera were there along with a handful of observers to hear the Vallas team present their comprehensive roadmap for Bridgeport. Lots of good dialogue between our City resident representatives on this Board. Chairman Trefry noted it is likely the days of this Board are numbered but they have assisted a necessary transition in the City.
    Stay tuned for late-breaking news. Time will tell.

  9. Quite frankly, it seems Vallas’ plan further rapes the City of Bridgeport’s middle class who will continue to leave our city. While he will be imposing a tax increase on all of us for the needed reforms he is proposing, there is still too much emphasis on providing big contracts for capital improvements that many corrupt people continue to profit from. I believe all the money spent on the new schools was just to profit out-of-towners who got the contracts. The increased costs for overhead and maintenance are born by Bridgeport residents while the quality of actual education continues to diminish. I believe it has to start with improving the actual education, not the buildings.

    Anyone with any other options will not send their children to Bridgeport Public Schools with the possible exception of the chosen few who win a lottery (another exception being a charter school such as Achievement First Academy). The entire profit system for the politically connected is not being dismantled here by Vallas.

    Change has to come from the bottom up, not the top down, and has to come from Bridgeport people, not outsiders.

    I would definitely support a voucher system and absent that, a Bridgeport-based effort of elected officials. We have to get rid of machine politics in Bridgeport as a start.


Leave a Reply