A must-read editorial by the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, discusses some of the progress Bridgeport schools have made over the past year, including closing the $13 million dollar funding gap and improving classroom resources:
The Bridgeport Regional Business Council has spent a great deal of time over the last few years and invested substantial dollars, along with the city, the state and the local Board of Education, in an attempt to improve financial accountability, transparency and operations in the Bridgeport school system.
The result has been about $13 million in identified efficiencies that have either been implemented by the Board of Education or considered for implementation. This result has helped put the school system at a place where it now has had two balanced budgets in succession and has made new investments in direct classroom improvements that will, over time, improve student outcomes.
Our goal in this work was twofold: first, Bridgeport’s kids deserve a better school system and one of the things that can make a better school system is better use of resources in a way that produces better performance results; and, second, better students ultimately will help us in our efforts to create a better workforce to fill 21st century job needs, thereby helping us to achieve our economic development goals for Bridgeport and the region.
Improved results in any given situation do not happen on their own. What is needed to achieve improved results are proven leadership with a quality team; a solid, bold vision; a unity of focus; efficient use of resources; and an integrated plan of execution.
Over the years, the Bridgeport school system has sorely lacked all of this. Until relatively recently, the system was very dysfunctional.
Today, we see real change, and renewed opportunity for improved results. Clearly over the last two years, with the leadership of Superintendent Paul Vallas, Bridgeport’s school system, a vast ship that is tough to turnaround, has turned the corner. We won’t know for sure how significant student performance will improve, but we do already see many signs of such a direction.
The leadership of our business community agrees with many who have already spoken on this issue that to force a change in the superintendency at this crucial time would be a mistake. It would set back the clock, and stall the progress that has been witnessed. Surely, if there is one thing the system now needs after years of upheaval and disappointment, it is stability and continuity in its leadership. Stability — particularly under proven leadership — builds confidence.
Despite all the questions surrounding the legitimacy of the superintendent’s appointment and the real need to provide meaningful voice to all constituencies, isn’t the more important issue one of real progress for the students in the system? We see progress being made on the current course under the current leadership. We will be better off keeping on course.