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Ed board votes to extend Vallas' contract

Reader Comment: The Board of Education meeting last night was tragic on several levels:

Lies and distortion was rampant in the Superintendent's Report. Just about everything was false. There have ALWAYS been books in Bridgeport schools. Always. Misinformation. Next, there is NO curriculum for any subject that is new and from this administration. None. This can be proven. By the way, books are not a curriculum. Also, the comedy of the end of the year test IS NOT aligned with Common Core. IT IS NOT. The test was a CAPT-like assessment. Another lie.

The most discouraging truth is that teachers are not a part of any district planning, decision-making, textbook selection, assessment, reporting, focus group, fact finding process, evaluation, or analysis. Not at all. How can a school system if teachers, the ones who work with the children, aren't included and listened to and engaged? This is one of many critical flaws, but one that no one has addressed.

Reader Comment: A terrible move by an illegal board. Also, to be clear, I sat and listened to public comments last night and the writer of this story failed to point out that the majority of those in attendance (75%) were against the illegally appointed board and carpetbagger Vallas.

The people that spoke against Vallas were citizens, educators, parents, former students, judges, etc. They all came armed with statistics, data, and questions about Vallas' former stops in New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Chicago, dismantling public education and schools along the way. Those who spoke for Vallas were: Corporate business suits, Excell Bridgeport Charter School advocates, parents of private charter school children,; all people that directly benefited from his no-bid contracts, arbitrary decision making, and private education opportunities. They did not come with facts, data, or knowledge, they came with statements like "good job!, "change is good, "Hooray for Paul." Need I say more... The real people of Bridgeport had the facts; the others were corporate shills for Vallas Inc.

Jon Pelto blog: First they extended Bridgeport's part-time, interim School Superintendent Paul Vallas' contract through the 2012-13 school year. No limit on consulting and the same salary and benefits that have him making more than the school chancellor in New York City.

The illegal Board of Education Chairman, Robert Trefry, who will leave the board when the new democratically elected board takes office in a couple of months, claimed the board acted to ensure the "district's stability."

Note the new buzzword -- we'd love to respect your democratic rights but they don't provide the "stability" we are looking for.

There was virtually no discussion or explanation about the textbook screw up or all the new software programs Vallas and his team are locking Bridgeport into. No substantive opportunity to really understand the decision to switch or expand contracts with Apex Learning, Easy ISP, Pinnacle, Rubicon Atlas.

The illegal Board of Education also voted to take the $3.5 million "loan" in return for giving Malloy's non-elected Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, the authority to choose Vallas' replacement next year.
As the CT Post notes in their story today, about two dozen people came out to speak, some in favor of Vallas' actions, some opposed.

It is funny how that democracy stuff is supposed to work. First you let people speak, then you let their democratically elected representatives vote on policiesâ€Â¦ well they got half of the process down.

The best line of the night goes to Mr. Vallas himself who, as the CT Post wrote, believes that "anyone who thinks private investment in education will result in profits 'doesn't have their head on straight.'" Perhaps Mr. Vallas forgets that K12, one of the companies he has used in the past, pulled in revenue in excess of $522 million last year and the Public Consulting Group, which he hired in Chicago, Philadelphia and now Bridgeport, has estimated revenues in excess of $200 million.

by Linda Conner Lambeck

BRIDGEPORT -- The state-appointed school board voted Monday to extend the contract of Interim School Superintendent Paul Vallas through the 2012-13 school year.

The decision came after the board listened to nearly two dozen speakers, some who want Vallas to stay even longer and others who said the district would be better off without him.

"Remember where we were a year ago? As a parent in this city, for the first time I feel we are trying to make progress," said James Cloud, who credited Vallas with putting textbooks back in the school.

Ann Trapasso, a Central High School English teacher, however, called this not the best year for her students, particularly with a year-end test forced upon the district that she said eliminated the time for year-end projects.

Judy Roneson, another Central teacher, said the district is shutting down teacher voices.

Parent Lauren Maren said she feels that for the first time the board and superintendent are listening to parents.

"I want him to be here," added Olga Disby, who said Vallas has provided a vision for the district, but needs to remain here to make sure it happens.

Others questioned some of the contracts Vallas has entered into, including a $10.8 million contract for textbooks, and a two-year agreement to change the software used to place and bill for special education students.

Board Chairman Robert Trefry, who will give up the seat in two months when an elected board is restored to the city under court order, said the extension was made to provide the district stability. He wanted to extend the contract longer. Vallas has said he will only finish out the 2012-13 school year. His current contract ends January 1, 2013.

Under the agreement he will make the same daily rate. The only change is that he must give the district 60 days notice before he leaves. The old contract did not require him to give notice. Vallas was brought into the district to improve the worst test scores in the state and seal a multimillion dollar budget deficit.

Vallas said he is pleased with how fast he has been able to put his initiatives in place.

The board on Monday also agreed to accept the state's offer to give the district a $3.5 million forgivable loan in exchange for giving the state commissioner of education the right to approve finalists for superintendent once Vallas leads.

Carmen Lopez, a retired judge, told the board the deal amounted to legalized extortion.

Board member Hernan Illingworth said no way was he going to turn down the $3.5 million the district needs to seal the last of its 2011-12 budget deficit for conditions he didn't think were "so bad."

such as his efforts to seal the budget deficit and a deal that will allow qualified students to take courses at area colleges. Like it or not, he said, the curriculum has to be aligned to the common core of curriculum being developed and the test will help the district determine just how far city students are behind. He also said he has used Public Consulting Group in Chicago and Philadelphia to help him collect Medicaid reimbursements, with "spectacular success."

Vallas said anyone who thinks private investment in education will result in profits "doesn't have their head on straight."

"The community needs to know there is not a conspiracy," said Kenneth Moales, a member of the state-appointed school board to the notion that all the reform efforts are an effort to give the corporate world access to the district resources.

The board also agreed Monday to approve of the administration's plan to offer Curiale School as an applicant for the Commissioner's Network. If selected, the school will get new money and state intervention.

lclambeck@ctpost.com, 203-330-6218; http://twitter.com

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— Linda Conner Lambeck
Connecticut Post





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