At the Bridgeport Board of Education, old habits die hard.
While last night’s kick-off to the school year was certainly not the longest meeting in Bridgeport BOE history, dragging from 5:30 p.m. till past 11 p.m., it did feature almost two hours of executive session, which forced the board to table over half of the agenda items to the next board meeting–including the FUSE audit and the presentation of Bassick High School’s turnaround plan.
Much of the meeting—including the two hour executive session— was spent discussing personnel issues, particularly the addition of new central office administrators, which included “upgraded” positions that were once designated “teachers on special assignment.”
According to Superintendent Fran Rabinowitz, these two added positions are necessary for the district to comply with the Child Find Law. For those who may not remember, the district was in hot water with the state last year over its non-compliance with the law and was forced to do an audit of special education services. Still, the added positions equaled about $250,000 in salary.
Former Chairman Rev. Moales was not happy with the idea of adding central office staff, arguing that the money would be better spent if it was used to clean up Bassick High School, a school that has been on the list for improvements for a long time.
In the end, the positions were approved by a narrow margin, 4-3-1, with Moales, John Bagley and Hernan Illingworth voting against.
There was an even more intriguing personnel decision up for discussion at last night’s board meeting. Long time central office employee Lissette Colon was switched from Chief of Staff to Human Resources Recruiter. While most of the conversation about this decision took place behind closed doors, it seems like there is more to the story. More than one member of the public spoke out in support of Colon during public comments. In the end, Colon’s switch to Human Resources recruiter was approved by the board.
While much of the non-personnel related agenda items were left to the wayside, the board did, of course, make time to approve the letter of agreement with their new attorney, the law firm Shipman & Goodwin. According to Linda Lambeck at the Connecticut Post, the firm’s services will cost the Board a blended rate of $275 an hour and $175 for paralegal work.
If attorneys from Shipman & Goodwin have to attend any board meetings, that bill will add up fast!
Dunbar’s turnaround plan was also approved at the tail end of the meeting. The new turnaround plan has many of the same features as the one developed last year, including additional professional development days for staff, an extended day, and teaching assistants in every classroom. New features include full time student support services and one new per-kindergarten program.
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