For Bridgeport’s Board of Education, ending a school board meeting on time is a historic event. Generally meetings run at least an hour over the time allotted; however, Monday’s board meeting was shorter and quieter than usual— most likely due to the absence of three of the board’s more outspoken members.
Board Chair Reverend Kenneth Moales was at City Hall defending his church at the Zoning Board of Appeals and arrived at the end of the meeting. Bobby Simmons and Maria Pereira, however, were no-shows.
Transportation seemed to be the topic on everyone’s mind. More than one parent raised concerns over busing issues.
One Harding high school parent explained that her daughter, who had been picked up by the bus for the last two years, was now told that she lived too close for bus transport. Another parent whose children were also no longer eligible for transportation was concerned over the dangers of students walking in the snow. She said, “Some of the roads don’t have sidewalks…and kids go on the side of the roads and parents don’t care and it’s very dangerous.”
According to Superintendent Paul Vallas, the district consolidated certain bus routes in order to save money; however, the district would be willing to make adjustments for individual students who are affected adversely by the change.
Among other topics discussed were paraprofessionals.
Carol Dunlee, a volunteer at the Read School, was concerned that kindergarten classes were sharing paraprofessionals. At Read, there are four paraprofessional shared between five kindergarten classes.
According to the Bridgeport Education Association (BEA) vice-president Robert Traber, the number of paraprofessionals in the district has been in decline for several years. The cuts started before Superintendent Vallas began his tenure.
A previous Education Bridgeport! article revealed that the number of paraprofessionals has actually increased since Vallas became Superintendent. Most of the added positions have been for Special-education paraprofessionals.
In response to concerns, Superintendent Vallas said he would like to see more resources in schools. He said, “If I had my way, we’d have a para in as many classrooms as possible.”