19 years after the passage of UConn 2000, the initiative that included the funds to renovate the Torrey Life Sciences Building, The University of Connecticut plans to spend $1 million on a new roof for the building which will then be torn down in the next five to seven years after a new science building is constructed.
The Hartford Courant reported on the latest development yesterday in an article entitled, UConn To Spend $1 Million On Roof Of Building Slated For Demolition. The Hartford Courant story quoted President Susan Herbst,
“It’s not ideal, but people are in there and they’ve got to be safe,” President Susan Herbst said after a Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday where the plan was approved.
The Hartford Courant went on to report that UConn’s Master Planner said that there have been 42 instances of reported leaks into the life sciences building since 2011.
The planner was quoted as saying, “Literally, when they did the test on the roof to try to figure out if we could repair, when they dug in to take a sample of the roof material… water squirted out.”
UConn’s Vice provost for academic operations added, “We have some of our best scholars in there and research labs that are active … We need to stabilize the building well enough to keep those labs functioning.”
But looking to a brighter future, the Hartford Courant story reported that,
“UConn’s plan is to replace the aging Torrey building with a $200 million new research center that the university has described as “a keystone” in its $1.5 billion Next Generation Connecticut initiative to develop UConn into a preeminent research university and innovation hub.
The new building is expected to open in late 2020 or early 2021.”
So UConn’s Board of Trustees has approved a plan to spend $1 million to repair the roof and will then spend $200 million to build a new building that is expected to open in 2020 or 2021.
However, what UConn officials failed to do was tell the whole story about the Torrey Life Sciences Building and that, unfortunately, leaves Connecticut citizens without some vital pieces of information.
So here is a bit of that back-story
In 1995, the Connecticut General Assembly passed Public Act 95-230, An Act to Enhance the Infrastructure of the University of Connecticut. The program was called “UConn 2000.”
The legislation authorized $1 billion in borrowing and gave UConn the “responsibility and accountability” to use those funds to rebuild, renew and enhance the University of Connecticut.
The legislation included an initial list of projects that were laid out over two phases.
The Torrey Life Science Building was listed as a “Phase II” project meaning that the building was scheduled to be renovated or replaced during the second phase of UConn 2000 or between 2000 and 2005.
As the end of the UConn 2000 program came into sight, the General Assembly passed UConn 21st Century, which borrowed an additional $1.3 billion, giving the University of Connecticut at total of $2.3 billion to spend over the period 1995-2015.
However, serious problems with the way the University of Connecticut implemented UConn 2000 projects led to cost overruns and the need to spend approximately $100 million to repair buildings that had been newly built or renovated with UConn 2000 Funds.
Governor Rell appointed a special UConn 2000 Commission to investigate the problems, a Commission I co-chaired. The Commission determined that the problems were widespread and far more serious than originally reported. At one point, more than 5,000 students were living in dormitories that did not meet state fire codes
The Commission was tasked with the responsibility to recommend policy changes that were later enacted during the 2006 legislative session.
Among the recommendations that were approved was a requirement that the UConn Board of Trustees play a far more active role in the oversight of the UConn 2000/21St Century UConn projects and that UConn and its Board of Trustees be required to provide the governor and general assembly with additional information in their annual reports about the UConn 2000/21st Century UConn projects.
At the time of the Commission’s work, the Torrey Life Sciences Building was listed as a $65 million effort that would be completed prior to 2015.
Two years later, in 2007, the University and its Board of Trustees reported that “Initial programming and project planning is underway for the proposed new Torrey Life Sciences.”
In 2008, UConn reported that the Torrey “project is a replacement facility for the programs in the Torrey Life Science building” and listed short-term renovation costs at about $7 million.
In 2009, UConn reported that, “This project is a replacement facility for the programs in the George Safford Torrey Life Sciences Building. It will include new research and teaching laboratories, classrooms and offices for various biology programs. Due to ongoing planning efforts, the project budget has been revised to reflect program needs for the new buildings. As a result of the reallocation of bond funds, planning for this project is currently on hold.”
But the following year, in 2010, UConn reported that in addition to its previous report, “A design project to repair and replace various roofs at the campus is underway” and that the Torrey building would be one of those buildings.
In 2011, UConn changed direction, or at least its story, reporting that the Torrey project, “Due to ongoing planning efforts, the project budget has been revised to reflect program needs for other new buildings; however, due to a lack of funding, planning will analyze the building’s potential for renovation and a modest research addition.”
And in 2012, UConn updated its approach to the Torrey building reporting, “Due to a lack of sufficient funding, planning efforts have analyzed the building’s potential for renovations rather than replacement. Renovation to a portion of the first floor of Torrey began in spring 2011.” The overall project cost to replace Torrey was increased from $65 million to $85 million.
Then last year, Governor Malloy’s “Next Gen” program authorized another $1.5 billion in borrowing to improve UConn’s buildings and programs and that amount was in addition to the $864 million that Malloy borrowed for UConn’s Bioscience Connecticut Initiative.
So here we are, 19 years after the passage of the UConn 2000 bill and despite the assurance that the Torrey Building would be renovated or replaced by now, the UConn Board of Trustees has approved a plan to spend $1 million to fix the Torrey Building’s roof, but promises that it will soon spend $200 million to build what it describes will be “a keystone” to its next $1.5 billion effort to enhance the University of Connecticut.
And what will be the cost be to taxpayers for the overall program? — $4.6 billion plus interest – or well over $6 billion.
Oh, and while UConn has rebuilt its campuses over the past two decades, as a result of inadequate state funding for UConn’s programs, the cost of attending UConn has increased over 240%
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The question IS NOT whether UConn has a major impact on Connecticut’s economy.
An additional issue is whether voters fully understand how UConn spends its public funds. For example, UConn uses student and public funds to subsidize the school’s big-time athletic programs to the tune of about $19 million a year.
Yesterday, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and UConn President Susan Herbst released a $50,000 study, produced by an out-of-state company that reported that that the University of Connecticut “had a $3.4 billion impact on the state’s economy in 2013.”
The University of Connecticut is a public institution of higher education that is dedicated to research, teaching and public service. UConn’s total budget is in excess of $1 billion a year, about 27% of which comes from state funds. It wasn’t that long ago that the state funded almost half of UConn’s budget. UConn is part of the nation’s network of land-grant universities. The concept of land-grant universities originated in the 1860s as a way to target public funds to promote “agricultural and technical educational institutions.”
Putting aside the obvious issue that this publicly-funded study was timed to showcase Malloy during the 2014 gubernatorial election, the bigger question is the governor’s double-standard when it comes to UConn and Connecticut’s other public colleges and universities.
At yesterday’s press conference, Malloy proclaimed,
“It’s important for the people of Connecticut to understand just how vital the University of Connecticut is to economic activity.”
Of course, this statement comes from the very same governor who pushed through the deepest budget cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education.
Since becoming governor, Malloy has reduced state support for the University of Connecticut by well over $100 million. (The same pattern of budget cuts has taken place at the Connecticut State Universities and Community Colleges).
As a direct result of Malloy’s budget cuts to UConn and the other public colleges and universities, the schools have been forced to shift the costs onto the backs of Connecticut’s students and their parents.
Since Malloy took office, the cost of going to UConn has skyrocketed by 20% for students living on campus. As a result of Malloy’s budget cuts, students who commute to UConn or can’t afford to live on campus have seen their tuition and mandatory fees jump by an incredible 28%.
Compounding the problem is the lack of transparency and honesty coming from the Malloy administration and UConn’s Board of Trustees.
The public subsidy of UConn’s athletic programs is just such an example.
When the State of Connecticut built a new stadium in East Hartford and UConn moved to 1-A football, state officials claimed that the move would be lucrative and that within a few years UConn football would be paying for the entire cost of UConn’s athletic programs.
However, according to a 2013 financial report provided to the NCAA, the State of Connecticut and UConn students continue to provide a massive subsidy to UConn’s big-time athletic programs.
Last year, UConn’s athletics program cost in excess of $63.3 million. Incredibly, 29.7% of that money comes from UConn’s Operating Fund which is primarily made up of tax dollars, as well as, UConn student tuition and fees.
While “big time” athletics are certainly part of almost every major university, Connecticut taxpayers, students and parents deserve to know that they are subsiding UConn athletics to the tune of about $19 million a year.
And while having top tier coaches is a vital part of any successful major athletic program, most Connecticut taxpayers, students and parents probably don’t know that UConn’s top four coaches collected in excess of $7.1 million in compensation in 2013 and that nearly a third of that money came directly from students, parents and taxpayers.
The truth is that Connecticut should be proud of the University of Connecticut and the impact UConn has on the state.
And Governor Malloy certainly has the right to highlight the fact that he has put nearly $2 billion on the state’s credit card to build even more new buildings for the University.
But for Governor Malloy to hold a press conference about UConn, without explaining that he implemented historic cuts to UConn’s operating fund, is extremely inappropriate and misleading.
As a direct result of Malloy’s policies, UConn has become more expensive for Connecticut families.
That is certainly something he shouldn’t be proud about.
You can read more about the new study and Malloy’s press conference at:
CTNewsJunkie: New Report Touts UConn’s Impact On State Economy
CT Mirror: UConn touts its economic contribution but touches off a political dustup
Gubernatorial Election 2014, Hartford Courant\, Malloy, Pelto, UConn Gubernatorial Election 2014, Hartford Courant, Malloy, Pelto, UConn
According to today’s Hartford Courant, the University of Connecticut has returned the public stage, again, to claim that no taxpayer or student funds were used to pay for Hillary Clinton’s $251,000 speaking fee, for Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s trip to Switzerland and China or for the 7,000 square foot house that the UConn Foundation bought in West Hartford for UConn’s President to use when she didn’t want to drive all the way back to Storrs.
Instead of simply telling the truth and admitting the UConn’s leadership decided, for whatever reason, to help subsidize those expenses, UConn has chosen to lie – again – about how UConn uses the UConn Foundation to funnel public funds to selected activities.
In a Hartford Courant article entitled, UConn Insists: No Taxpayer, Tuition Dollars Funded Hillary – Independent Candidate Pelto Maintains: It’s Not True, the Courant explains;
The University of Connecticut reasserted its position Tuesday that neither taxpayer dollars nor student tuition money were used to pay Hillary Clinton’s $251,250 speaker’s fee.
Nor, the university insists, was taxpayer or tuition money used to pay for a $660,000 12-room house in Hartford’s West End or for the governor’s economic development trips to Davos, Switzerland and China two years ago.
“I think it’s helpful for everyone to have the full information,” Stephanie Reitz, UConn spokeswoman said Tuesday.
But as the Courant also reported,
Pelto maintained Tuesday that it’s “just untrue” that there aren’t taxpayer and tuition dollars involved in paying for an event such as Clinton’s speech. “That money is part of the inherent subsidy of a project like that,” Pelto said.
He said the same is true for “unrestricted” foundation funds spent on other events, such as Malloy’s travel. “The state and the students are paying the foundation to raise money for the university,” Pelto said.
Such events are “to one degree or another subsidized by the public and by these students,” Pelto said, adding that instead of covering Malloy’s travels, the funds could have gone toward a program for students.
You can read UConn’s almost painful effort to spin the story by reading the full Hartford Courant article at: http://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-uconn-foundation-money-0709-20140708,0,2285597.story
The truth is that UConn has transferred about $86 million in taxpayer and student funds to the UConn Foundation over the past ten years. Those dollars were used to pay the UConn Foundation’s overhead including staff, benefits and related development costs.
UConn uses this funding technique to make the UConn Foundation look more successful than it actually is. For example, according to their most recent financial statement, the UConn Foundation spent about $11 million to raise $40 million.
By transferring about $9 million from UConn’s Operating Fund to the UConn Foundation to pay for most of their development costs, the Foundation does not have to tap into the $40 million it raised to pay for its own expenses.
The downside of this tactic is that by paying for the UConn Foundation’s operating costs with public funds, UConn loses the right to claim that the Foundation’s activities are totally private or that those activities are “only paid for with private resources.”
It is not a hard concept to grasp and certainly something UConn should not be lying about.
The truth is that for good or for bad, the public and students are subsidizing the UConn Foundation – this year – to the tune of about $9 million dollars and that $9 million dollars could have been used to expand programs at the University of Connecticut or used to reduce UConn’s decision to raise tuition by 6.5%.
The reality is that the public subsidy of the UConn Foundation means that the public and students ARE helping to cover the costs associated with the UConn Foundation’s $251,000 payment to Hilary Clinton, Malloy’s trips to Switzerland and China, the President’s new house in West Hartford and all the other things that the Foundation spends money on.
Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto
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In an article entitled, Hillary Clinton’s UConn Speech Continues to Draw Criticism, the Hartford Courant writes,
Hillary Clinton’s April speech at the University of Connecticut is continuing to spark controversy, with two candidates for governor slamming the school for paying the former senator and secretary of state more than $250,000 for the 30-minute talk.
UConn officials say Clinton’s visit was hosted not by the university but by University of Connecticut Foundation, a private group. The program was funded by a grant from the Fusco family of New Haven, which underwrites speeches by scholars, authors and policymakers.
The UConn foundation, which has raised hundreds of millions of dollars from private donors for the school in recent years, operates largely in secret: the group is exempt from the state’s Freedom of Information laws.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley and independent candidate Jonathan Pelto both criticized the foundation.
Pelto, a longtime critic of the UConn foundation, said the university’s assertion that no tax dollars were used to fund the Clinton speech is misleading.
“In a long standing deal between the University of Connecticut and its foundation, UConn uses taxpayer and students funds so subsidize the foundation so that it will look more successful,” Pelto said. “This year approximately $9 million will be shifted from UConn’s taxpayer and student-funded Operating Fund to the foundation. To suggest that none of that money helped pay for Hillary Clinton’s fee and visit to UConn is simply wrong.”
“Although Connecticut taxpayers, students and their families are unaware of the deal between UConn and its foundation, more than $86 million in taxpayer and student tuition fees have been given to the UConn Foundation over the past decade. The money has been used to subsidize a variety of activities that shouldn’t utilize public funding such as a 5,000 square-foot house for UConn’s president in West Hartford (even though she has one in Storrs), Governor Malloy’s trip to Davos, Switzerland and China and the $251,000 for Hillary Clinton,” Pelto added.
“It is truly outrageous that UConn and its foundation would then divert scarce resources away from instructional costs to pay $251,000 for a speaker,” he added.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was among the Democratic politicians who attended the Clinton speech. A spokesman did not respond to a request seeking comment.
You can read the complete article, including Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley at: http://courantblogs.com/capitol-watch/hillary-clintons-uconn-speech-continues-to-draw-criticism/
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Here is the latest on UConn’s payment of $251,000 to Hillary Clinton for speaking on the Storrs Campus earlier this year
Pat Eaton-Rob of the Associated Press writes,
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The University of Connecticut on Thursday defended its decision to have former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speak on campus in April for a fee of more than $250,000.
Her April 23 appearance was part of the school’s Edmund Fusco Contemporary Issues Forum and was paid for by the UConn Foundation from a donation made by the Fusco family of New Haven.
“No taxpayer or tuition money was involved at all,” said Stephanie Reitz, a school spokeswoman. “It’s unfortunate and unfair to link discussions about college affordability and tuition to the desire of a private donor to have money spent in a particular way.”
The school, which will have a 6.5 percent tuition hike this fall, was criticized on talk radio, in newspapers and on social media after the fee of $251,250 was reported Wednesday by The Washington Post.
Former state Rep. Jonathan Pelto, an independent candidate for governor and frequent critic of the school, said it is misleading to say no taxpayer money was involved, because UConn subsidizes the private foundation.
He said the speech came at a time when the state is cutting funding to the public school and tuition is rising past the point of affordability for many Connecticut families.
“It is truly outrageous that UConn and its foundation would then divert scarce resources away from instructional costs to pay $251,000 for a speaker,” he said.
The foundation said that under terms of the Fusco donation, it cannot legally use that money for anything other than bringing scholars, leaders and policy makers to speak at UConn.
But here is a press release revealing what the University of Connecticut did not explain,
Taxpayer and Tuition Subsidy of UConn Foundation clouds claim that “no tax funds” were used to pay Hillary Clinton $251,000 to speak at UConn.
Jonathan Pelto, the independent Connecticut candidate for governor running under the banner of the new Education and Democracy Party, says that the University of Connecticut’s claim that “No taxpayer dollars” went to support Hillary Clinton’s recent $251,000 speaking fee at UConn is misleading at best.
“In a long standing deal between the University of Connecticut and its foundation, UConn uses taxpayer and students funds to subsidize the foundation so that it will look more successful,” Pelto said. “This year approximately $9 million will be shifted from UConn’s taxpayer and student-funded Operating Fund to the foundation. To suggest that none of that money helped pay for Hillary Clinton’s fee and visit to UConn is simply wrong.”
As the Washington Post revealed yesterday, “At least eight universities, including the University of Connecticut and three other public institutions, have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for Hillary Rodham Clinton to speak on their campuses over the past year…In one previously undisclosed transaction, UConn – which just raised tuition by 6.5 percent – paid $251,250 for Clinton to speak on campus in April. Her fee was underwritten entirely by Edmund Fusco, a New Haven-based developer, and his family, according to Deb Cunningham, interim vice president for communications at the University of Connecticut Foundation.”
“Although Connecticut taxpayers, students and their families are unaware of the deal between UConn and its foundation, more than $86 million in taxpayer and student tuition fees have been given to the UConn Foundation over the past decade. The money has been used to subsidize a variety of activities that shouldn’t utilize public funding such as a 5,000 square-foot house for UConn’s president in West Hartford (even though she has one in Storrs), Governor Malloy’s trip to Davos, Switzerland and China and the $251,000 for Hillary Clinton.”
“The truth is that the Malloy administration’s record cuts to our public colleges and universities has translated into massive tuition increases, which in turn is further burdening Connecticut’s middle class and preventing more and more students from even attending UConn and our other public colleges and universities. It is truly outrageous that UConn and its foundation would then divert scarce resources away from instructional costs to pay $251,000 for a speaker.”
You can read the complete AP story in a number of newspapers including: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Clinton-speech-cost-UConn-Foundation-250-000-5597986.php
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“I am not talking about what happened in the past. I am talking about what needs to happen in the future. (Governor Dannel Malloy 2-12-14)
The CT News Junkie headline reads “Commits To Higher Ed, Hopes Future Governors Will Too.”
Governor Malloy held a press conference at Manchester Community College on Wednesday in which he touted the “major investment” he was making in Connecticut’s institutions of public education.
As the article reports;
“Calling his recently announced higher education investments a good first step, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Wednesday he’s committed to additional funding increases even as he nears the end of his current term as governor.”
This “commitment” comes from the same Governor Malloy who has pushed through the deepest budget cuts in state history at Connecticut’s public colleges and universities.
At UConn, for example, before Malloy became governor, the Connecticut state budget accounted for 33% of the total cost required to operate the University of Connecticut. Three years into his term and after his record budget cuts at UConn, Connecticut State University and at the State’s Community Colleges, the state now only provides 27.9% of the amount necessary to keep UConn operating.
As a direct result of Malloy’s budget cuts, the burden on students and their families have INCREASED by 17.3% with tuition and fees going up by double digits since Malloy became governor.
In 2010, candidate Dan Malloy promised to make Connecticut’s public college and universities a priority. Since being sworn in as Dannel Malloy in 2011, Malloy has done exactly the opposite.
The reality is that it is getting harder and harder for middle class families to afford to send their children to college in Connecticut. Since 2000, the cost of attending UConn has increased 118%.
And no Connecticut governor in living memory has done as much damage to higher education than Malloy.
But in what has now become typical fashion, Malloy failed to let the truth get in the way of a good press opportunity.
According to the CT News Junkie article, Malloy called his new funding initiative;
“Not a bad start” and added, “This is only a down payment, I’ve said it to members of the Regents Board. As this plan becomes further identified, there will in fact be increased investments in this system. That’s why this is really a celebration . . . of what is to come in the future.”
As Malloy put it, “I’m making a personal commitment and I hope future governors will make a personal commitment to make sure that this program continues…I want to be very clear, this is just the beginning of the investments we need to make in this system.”
However, the “new investment” that Malloy is making is based on an incredible budget gimmick and is not an ongoing effort to improve funding at Connecticut’s public colleges and universities.
As the CT Mirror explains, “Malloy is proposing to pay for this initiative using a budget loophole to get around the state’s constitutional spending limits.”
In a related budget story the CT Mirror laid out Malloy’s plan;
“…the $60 million Malloy would provide to cover the operating expenses…rely and the buy-one-get-one-free course for dropouts would come from a “one-time revenue transfer,” according to the administration.
What Malloy has proposed commonly is known in fiscal analyst circles as an “intercept” — a loophole used to move funds off budget and outside the purview of the constitutional spending cap.
After pledging for weeks that his new budget would comply with the cap, Malloy sent lawmakers a $19 billion plan that falls a razor-thin $8 million under the cap — and that’s before the Transform CSCU 2020 initiative is included.
The Democratic governor has been loathe to approve a legal exception to the cap – having criticized his GOP predecessors for frequently going that route. That option also is more complicated, requiring a 60 percent vote of approval in both the House and Senate.
Malloy instead turned to a loophole.
The cap system technically applies only to tax receipts and other revenues assigned to the state budget. Malloy will ask lawmakers to “intercept” $60 million of those revenues – which means that before the money “arrives” in the state treasury, it has been assigned to a new purpose outside of the budget.
Effectively, there would be no difference in how the money is spent in the fiscal year that begins July 1, but the expenditure wouldn’t be counted for spending cap purposes.
Traditionally though, state payments to cover higher education costs have been included within the budget.
Governor Malloy’s entire “commitment” to higher education has been a farce and his latest “commitment” is even more absurd than his previous ones.
Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, UConn Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, UConn
Capitol Fax is the media outlet that broke the story this morning that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has selected Paul Vallas to be his running mate.
“* 10:01 am – Gov. Quinn is calling around telling people that he has picked Paul Vallas as his running mate. Completely unexpected. Stay tuned.”
A little later, Capital Fax added;
“*** UPDATE 4 *** I’m assuming that the governor took a good long look at case histories regarding residency requirements. I doubt he’d want to get caught up in a long, drawn-out suit over this.”
“*** UPDATE 8 *** I just talked with Rupert Borgsmiller, who chairs the Illinois State Board of Elections.
I asked the chairman what could happen if somehow Vallas was kicked off the ballot due to a residency challenge. Would that “infect” Quinn’s legal viability as a candidate since state law requires them to run together?
Borgsmiller checked with his top lawyer and got back to me. Since this is a new law, he said, “There’s no way to determine an outcome of a scenario (like that).”
So, it’d be up to the courts.”
Wait, What? readers will recall that during the Lopez v. Vallas case, presided over by Judge Barbara Bellis, Paul Vallas stated, under oath, that he was a resident of Bridgeport, Connecticut.
It was only after repeated questioning from former Judge Carmen Lopez’s attorney, Norm Pattis, that Vallas changed his statement to say that he lived in Bridgeport but voted in Illinois, owned a house in Illinois and had an Illinois driver’s license.
However, as we know, Vallas paid the in-state tuition for his infamous three-credit independent study class that Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, and the State Board of Education tried to claim was a school leadership program.
As every UConn student, parent and alum know, you only pay the in-state tuition rate if you are a resident of Connecticut.
So we’re left with a dilemma.
If Paul Vallas is a resident of Connecticut, he can’t run for the office of Lt. Governor in Illinois.
On the other hand, if he is a resident of Illinois, what the hell was UConn doing charging him the in-state tuition rate.
Maybe the Illinois courts can work this one out…
Maybe Vallas would be willing to pay a supplemental tuition bill to prove he is not a Connecticut resident.
Bridgeport, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, UConn Bridgeport, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, UConn
The Hartford Courant editorial writers weighed in on the Paul Vallas debacle today with an editorial entitled, “Why Make It So Hard For Paul Vallas To Help Bridgeport Schools?”
The most cursory review of their position reveals that they either failed to take the time to check the facts or worse, made up their own facts to fit their conclusion.
The Hartford Courant Editorial claimed, “Mr. Vallas may not meet every certification requirement to the letter. But in the larger sense, to say that he is unqualified or ineligible to be superintendent in Bridgeport is a bad joke…The experienced administrator has served 15 years in Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans school districts. This record doesn’t qualify him to run Bridgeport’s schools?”
The Courant editorial went on to say “The state’s overly strict certification requirements should be waived by the State Board of Education for someone of Mr. Vallas’ impressive experience or at the very least he should be given plenty of time to meet them…For example, one requirement is attainment of 30 credits in courses related to becoming a superintendent. Those can’t be compiled overnight.”
“Strict certification requirements”?
Mr. Vallas “should be given plenty of time to meet them”?
Whoa there….now let’s try a bit of the truth.
- The old Connecticut law allowed the Commissioner of Education to waive a superintendent’s need for certification if the person met certain requirements including having served as a certified superintendent in another state.
- However, Paul Vallas has NEVER been certified to hold any educational position, including that of superintendent, so in order to ease him into the role of superintendent of schools in Bridgeport the Malloy administration added language to Malloy’s education reform bill that made it far easier for Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education to waive an individual’s need for certification.
- That new provision remained part of Malloy’s education reform bill; it passed the Connecticut General Assembly and was signed into law by Governor Malloy.
- Instead of having to be certified in another state, the Commissioner of Education was given the authority to waive an individual’s need to be certified if they completed a school leadership program at a Connecticut college or university.
- The new law took effect on July 1, 2012, but Paul Vallas did not contact the University of Connecticut to inquire about their school leadership program until February 2013, eight months AFTER the law took effect and AFTER the 2013 spring semester had already begun.
- It was only then that Vallas learned that he lacked the credentials necessary to enroll in UConn’s school leadership program.
- But rather than check to see whether there were other programs that he could qualify for at other colleges or universities, Vallas and a UConn professor developed a three-credit independent study class that, with the help of Commissioner Pryor and the State Board of Education, they passed off as a school leadership program.
- A Connecticut Superior Court Judge reviewed the facts and correctly ruled that a three credit course is not a program and Paul Vallas had failed to meet the requirements of the law. Without the necessary credentials, Vallas could not legally serve as a superintendent and the judge ruled that he needed to leave the position.
The Hartford Courant complains about Connecticut’s strict certification requirements, but in fact, Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor provided Vallas with an easy alternate route to getting the job if he had only followed the law that Commissioner Pryor and Governor Malloy had written.
Second, the Hartford Courant complains that Vallas should have been given more time. Vallas, Pryor, Malloy and all of those involved in the effort to keep Vallas in place were keenly aware that Vallas needed to complete a school leadership program during his one year probationary period. He could have done that work at any number of Connecticut colleges and universities. But instead of starting that work in July or August or September or October or November or January, he only contacted UConn in February and then only began his studies in March.
The Hartford Courant editorial ends by saying, “Mr. Vallas’ promising appointment shouldn’t be strangled in red tape.”
The truth is that the only thing strangling Paul Vallas was his arrogance and unwillingness to abide by a Connecticut law that was specifically written to make it easier for him to hold the post of superintendent in the State of Connecticut.
Instead of condoning such incompetence, the Hartford Courant should be celebrating the fact that we are a state of laws and no one, not even Paul Vallas or Commissioner Pryor or Governor Malloy are above the law.
To read the full Hartford Courant editorial go to: http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/editorials/hc-ed-vallas-bridgeport-school-superintendent-trav-20130722,0,7496626.story
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Following an incredible day of testimony on Monday, lawyers in the trial seeking Paul Vallas’ removal as Bridgeport’s superintendent of schools brought the trial to an end yesterday with their closing arguments.
The differences in approach, style and substance could not have been clearer.
The lawyer for Paul Vallas and the City of Bridgeport sought to rationalize the special treatment Paul Vallas has received; telling the court that it was perfectly appropriate that Vallas only took a three-credit UConn independent study course to meet his legal requirement to complete a school leadership program before Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, could waive Vallas’ need for state certification to hold the position.
Alternatively, Norm Pattis, the attorney for former Connecticut superior court judge Carmen Lopez, who brought the suit against Vallas, pointed out that Malloy, Pryor, Vallas and the majority of the Bridgeport Board of Education have repeatedly cut corners in their never ending attempt to put and keep Paul Vallas in the position of running Bridgeport’s Schools, despite his failure to meet the most basic statutory requirements.
The message from the beginning of this case has been consistent. Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor added language to Malloy’s “education reform” bill that allowed Pryor to waive Vallas’ certification requirement IF Paul Vallas successfully completed a one-year probationary period and successfully completed a school leadership program at a Connecticut public or private college or university.
Despite the fact that the law took effect on July 1, 2012, Paul Vallas did not begin looking into attending a program until February 2013. After learning that he lacked the credentials to be accepted to UConn’s Executive Leadership Program, a 13-month, $25,000 program that provides the educational background necessary to get Connecticut’s 093 superintendents certification, Vallas and his UConn advisor concocted a three-credit independent study.
Upon Pryor’s recommendation, the State Board of Education approved a resolution calling the course a “school leadership program” in mid-April and 90 days later Vallas “completed” the course.
The majority on the Bridgeport Board of Education then requested Pryor to use that news to waive Vallas’ certification requirement, which Pryor did, and this past Monday the Board voted to make Vallas Bridgeport’s “permanent” superintendent.
While Paul Vallas “completed” the three-credit course, the record indicates that he never applied to the University of Connecticut, was never accepted into the University of Connecticut, never enrolled in the University of Connecticut and never paid any of the mandatory fees required for attending the University of Connecticut.
While the concept that an individual could become a permanent superintendent of schools by taking one three-credit course is absurd. Unless, of course, you are Governor Malloy, Commissioner Pryor or Paul Vallas and proceed as if the law is something that only applies to others.
Although other media outlets did not cover the trail, you can read the CT Post coverage here: http://www.ctpost.com/default/article/Drive-by-schools-chief-gets-an-A-4619498.php and http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Schools-chief-has-a-job-for-now-4621290.php
On Monday, in a story entitled “Drive-by-schools chief gets and A”, the Connecticut Post’s Daniel Tepfer wrote, “Acting school superintendent Paul Vallas got an “A” in a UConn course that he designed and was allowed to complete in time for him to be certified for the job, according to testimony Monday.
And this was after he was handpicked as superintendent by the head of the state’s education department, who testified that Vallas is a friend.”
Adding, “But Vallas lacked a state leadership certificate to serve as a superintendent, a certificate that at the time could only be obtained by completing a 13-month course at UConn. On April 15, the state Board of Education approved an abbreviated program — essentially an independent study under the supervision of Villanova — for Vallas to take instead. He recently completed that.”
The story added, “Villanova [Vallas’ UConn advisor] said Vallas was overqualified and did not have the time to take the 13-month course the university offers for aspiring school superintendents. So he proposed an independent study that would last 13 weeks and involve seminars and classwork. Vallas submitted six papers and met with Villanova twice for about four hours.
And on March 30, the day Vallas submitted his last two assignments, after just eight weeks, Villanova notified Vallas he had passed the course.”
Yesterday, the Connecticut Post had an article entitled Schools Chief has a job — for now, which began, “One day after the city’s Board of Education voted to make Paul Vallas permanent superintendent of schools, a judge is deciding whether he is qualified for the job.
Although the board rushed through a vote Monday night making Vallas official, state Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis said Tuesday that she will issue her decision within the week following the conclusion of the civil trial before her.
City activist and retired judge Carmen Lopez is suing Vallas, claiming he is not qualified to run the school system of the state’s largest city.
Vallas, who never took a graduate education course, was appointed last year by state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor to the $234,000 job. Pryor testified he is friends with Vallas and was impressed with Vallas’ work at other school districts, including his work in New Orleans.”
The Connecticut Post story wrapped up with, “Norman Pattis, who argued that the course Vallas took did not satisfy the law, which clearly states superintendent candidates must have completed a leadership program…He pointed out that the dean of UConn’s school of education had testified the course Vallas took was not a university program…”He (Pryor) took a course and transformed it into a program so that a friend could stay in Connecticut. The evidence before you cries of a mockery,” Pattis said.”
With the trial completed, we will know soon whether that mockery is allowed to stand.
Bridgeport, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, UConn Bridgeport, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, UConn
The story of arrogance, entitlement and deceit continues to play out here in Connecticut.
First Governor Malloy and his administration tried to illegally take over the Bridgeport School System.
Although Connecticut’s Supreme Court ruled the action was illegal and ordered the state to return control of Bridgeport Schools back to the people of Bridgeport, Malloy’s illegally-appointed Board of Education hired Paul Vallas to serve as Bridgeport’s Acting Superintendent of Schools.
To this day, Paul Vallas likes to say that it was Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, who was the one who recruited Vallas to Connecticut.
But the problem was that Paul Vallas lacked (and continues to lack) the legal credentials to serve as a superintendent of schools in Connecticut.
On more than one occasion, Paul Vallas whined that requiring him to be certified in order to run Bridgeport’s schools was like requiring Michael Jordan to be certified to coach basketball. (It remains a particularly funny and telling comment considering that Michael Jordan would need to be certified to coach basketball at a Connecticut school).
In any case, in order to get around the law, Governor Malloy proposed language as part of his “education reform” bill that allowed Commissioner Pryor to waive Vallas’ need for certification if Vallas successfully completed a one year probationary period AND successfully completed “a school leadership program, approved by the State Board of Education, offered at a public or private institution of higher education in the state.”
Earlier this spring, in order to fulfill this education requirement, Vallas went to UConn to apply for UConn’s respected Executive Leadership Program, a 13-month, $25,000 intensive education program that provides students with the background necessary to get their Connecticut superintendent’s certification.
But Vallas couldn’t get into the program since, among other things, he didn’t have the required 15 graduate credits beyond his Master’s Degree. In fact, Vallas didn’t have any credits past his Master’s Degree.
So somehow, miraculously, the 13-month, $25,000 program morphed into a 3 credit, $3,000 independent study. Despite it being the middle of the semester; Vallas started his “course.”
A month later, the State Board of Education “approved” the student leadership program, as required by the statute, but rather than approving UConn’s Executive Leadership Program, it approved the independent study “program” that Vallas was enrolled in…calling it a school leadership program.
When all was said and done, less than ninety days after Vallas started his “program,” he completed his class and his UConn advisor announced that he was good to go.
Then on June 14, 2013, Kenneth Moales, Jr. the embattled chairman of Bridgeport’s Board of Education wrote to Commissioner Pryor informing him that Vallas had completed his probationary period and education leadership program and asking Malloy’s appointee to waive Vallas’ need for certification.
Today we learn that Commissioner Pryor has responded in a letter back to Kenneth Moales Jr. saying, “I am pleased to grant this waiver of Mr. Vallas’s certification to serve as superintendent.”
Despite a lawsuit pending on the issue of whether Vallas did or did not meet the his legal duties as they relate to his responsibility to complete an Education Leadership Program at a public or private institution of higher education in Connecticut, Pryor writes, “…as indicated in the materials you attached to your letter to me, as of May 30, 2013, Mr. Vallas successfully completed an SBE-approved school leadership program at the University of Connecticut Neag School of Education.
So there you have it…
Every other Connecticut superintendent of schools is certified, but Pryor has now waived Vallas’ need to be certified.
And while tens of thousands of Connecticut residents have spent hundreds of millions of their hard-earned money and years of their lives working their way through the University of Connecticut to earn their certification to work in Connecticut schools, thanks to Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor, Paul Vallas will continue to collect his $234,000 a year at his part-time job as Bridgeport’s superintendent of school, sans any certification.
Meanwhile, big congratulations to all the UConn Alumni out there who worked and paid for their education… (suckers)