Bridgeport · Students

Fate of Bridgeport Schools Could Be Decided Wednesday Night

While this year’s school board race has largely been eclipsed by the city’s high-profile mayoral primary, the results could have a huge impact on the future of the Park City.

Think about it this way: the BOE candidates that win today’s primary could go on to control city schools, and ultimately the education of the nearly 22,000 Bridgeport public school students.

On one side is the Democrat endorsed slate: Current BOE members Hernan Illingworth and Kadisha Coates, as well as newcomer former Parent Advisory Council Recording Secretary Faith Harrison-Villegas.

A former District Parent Advisory Council president, Illingworth initially won his seat in 2011 when the state took control of the school board. His running mate Coates is a more recent addition. She was appointed to the school board to replace John Bagley, who resigned from the BOE last Fall.

Harrison-Villegas, a Bridgeport parent with a background in social work, told the Connecticut Post that her first goal would be to change alumni relations.

“The constant message of overall failure and the “pipeline to prison” label on the Bridgeport Public Schools needs to be challenged and many of our alumni can definitely dispel the notion that our schools are failure factories,” said Harrison-Villegas.

Running against them is a slate headed by former BOE member Maria Pereira, who readers might remember, vowed to take back control of the school board since last year.

In case you’re wondering – yes, this is the same Maria Pereira who was also involved in The District Parent Advisory Council takeover. 

Pereira and her running mates, Greenwich teacher Ben Walker and Attorney Dennis Bradley, are running on Former Mayor Joe Ganim’s ticket.

One major piece of their shared platforms is a call to immediately start a search for a new permanent superintendent.

“No offense to our current interim superintendent, but it is time to fill this position of leadership,” said Ben Walker to the Connecticut Post. 

Walker’s primary opponent, sitting BOE member Hernan Illingworth disagrees.

“I strongly believe we are heading in the right direction,” he said to the Post. “We change course way too many times before actually giving it a real chance. I feel we have a good district plan — let’s fully support that plan.”

Polls will be open from 8 A.M. to 8 P.M. If you need help finding your polling place here is a link for the city’s voter registration lookup. 



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