Bridgeport BOE Chair Reshuffles Committee

With Dave Hennessey taking over the Bridgeport Board of Education gavel, many in Bridgeport are wondering what new directions the board might take.

Apparently, at least one change is fewer committee meetings.

According to an updated list posted on the BOE’s website this week, the number of ad hoc committees was decreased from eight to six – not a bad move if you consider that some weeks the board was meeting almost every day.

Rather than casting former chair Sauda Baraka aside, Hennessey placed her in charge of the Procedures Committee (formerly process committee).

While it might sound like one of the more mundane posts, as head of the Procedures Committee, Baraka wields a fair amount of power over the board bylaws. If the board wants to make dramatic bylaw or policy changes, they’ll have to go through Baraka first.

Hennessy’s appointment of Hernan Illingworth to lead the Building and Operations committee is also intriguing. I wonder if this was done to prevent Maria Pereira and Carmen Lopez from taking over committee meetings. Illingworth, unlike John Bagley, will probably not allow either “activist” to run amok as they did last year.

Hennessey said he hoped this new committee set-up would be more efficient.

“Hopefully, this way might be more efficient with more members, more ideas and more collaboration for the benefit of our children,” wrote Hennessey in an email.

In addition, the number of board members on each committee was increased to five, reversing a change former chair Sauda Baraka enacted last year when she cut the number down to an average of three.

This may seem inconsequential, but this is actually a big step in moving the board toward a more democratic process.

Much of the nitty-gritty policy work is in done in the board’s ad hoc committees. The makeup of these committees, and especially who heads them, helps determine the direction the BOE will take for the next year.

More committee members means more board members have a voice. Hopefully, it will also lead to more compromise and collaboration since the majority on each committee increases from two to three board members.

Here’s a listing of the new committee chair assignments (and their equivalent from last year):

Curriculum and Instruction (formerly Student Achievement, Special Populations and Early Childhood Committee) – Jacqui Kelleher

Financial Administration (formerly Finance Committee) – Andre Baker

Human Resources (formerly Personnel Committee) – Howard Gardner

Procedures (formerly Process Committee) – Sauda Baraka

Buildings and Operations (formerly Facilities Committee and Security, Health and Safety Committee) – Hernan Illingworth

Students and Families (formerly Student Achievement Committee and Community Engagement) – Joe Larcheveque



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