Bridgeport reshuffles principal assignments
Linda Conner Lambeck, Staff Writer
BRIDGEPORT — The Board of Education agreed Monday to hand over the management of Warren Harding High School to an outside firm, hired a principal for its new Discovery Magnet School and shuffled the leadership at several other schools.
The New York-based Global Partnership Schools will take over at Harding once Schools Superintendent John Ramos draws up a contract that will specify what the district expects in return for a large chunk of an anticipated three-year, $2.1 million federal grant. Global Partnerships was started last year by Rudolph Crew, the former schools chancellor of New York City and Miami as well as Manny Rivera, twice the former schools superintendent in Rochester, NY.
Theirs was one of two firms that submitted a proposal. The other was Mosaica Turnaround Partners, also of New York.
Global received the highest marks on all selection criteria, according to Ben Barnes, interim director of finance and one of three members on the selection committee. Global will be commissioned to “restart” Harding, a school beset by low test scores and labeled by the superintendent and others as being “in a crisis.”
With seven members present, board member Bobby Simmons was the lone nay vote. He questioned how widespread the request for proposals were advertised, and the size and makeup of the selection committee, which included no representatives from the Harding community.
He asked that the board be given a list of the stockholders and partners of the Varkey Group, Global’s parent company, and sought assurances from Ramos that he and his top staff would not seek employment from Global.
Board member Maria Pereira questioned the possibility that Harding Principal Carol Birks might be selected to stay on in that role. With Birks sitting behind her, Pereira said the school needed new leadership. Ramos said that is yet to be determined and that Global will interview all the stakeholders in the school once they start to figure out what it will take to get Harding moving.
“We’ve got to get this going. We have a very short window,” he said, added that Global Partnership will likely get two thirds of the Harding grant to run the school. He also called the restart concept “revolutionary” and “brazen.”
The state expects final approval on its School Improvement Grant applications very shortly. In addition to Harding, the district is getting money to turn around Bassick and Barnum Schools. As such, the principals of both schools have to change.
Under an organizational plan presented to the board, Alejandro Ortiz will move from Central to Bassick as principal and Ann Engelson will become Central’s new principal..She was principal at Blackham. Meanwhile, Bassick Principal Ronald Remy will take over as principal at Blackham.
Barnum’s new principal will be Ralph Paladino, who was assistant principal at Blackham. Lourdes Delgado, will move from Barnum to become the new principal of Thomas Hooker School.
The board also voted to name Karen Perachio, as the new principal at Columbus. She had been an assistant principal and then interim principal there this year. Mary Beth Stickley will become the new principal of the interdistrict Discovery Magnet School. She most recently was director of early childhood education.