Gov. Dannel Malloy’s education cost sharing executive order maintained flat funding for the Bridgeport school system, but that wasn’t what Bridgeport Superintendent Aresta L. Johnson was hoping for, according to her budget talking points. Despite receiving the same amount of state education funds as last year, the Bridgeport school system has implemented a hiring freeze and an operational account freeze for nonessential and contractual accounts as the school system faces rising costs.
Bridgeport, New Haven, Waterbury and Hartford all face mounting debt, pension and OPEB liabilities, coupled with high taxes, high rates of poverty and declining services, according to a forth-coming study entitled Connecticut's Broken Cities. However, Stamford remains the one major Connecticut city that does not qualify as a “distressed municipality.”
Ms. Coates and her husband had enrolled their two older children in private Catholic school, but that eventually became a financial impossibility. Instead of moving out of Bridgeport, where most schools in the city were rated far lower than those in surrounding areas, she decided to tackle the situation head on. Ms. Coates showed up at a Bridgeport Board of Education meeting, where she witnessed parents at odds with each other and a system that was not working for her kids.
Bridgeport ranked highest in the nation for “family flight” as middle income families flee urban areas with failing schools, according to research done by Dr. Bartley Danielson, associate professor of finance and real estate at North Carolina State University. Danielsen examined 100 metropolitan areas across the United States and compared census data for families with children aged 0-4 and 5-9. His findings showed that families whose children reach school age relocate out of areas with poor performing schools.
A federal audit criticized Connecticut housing officials for failing to finish a number of projects supported with $25 million in grant money, with one official blaming "difficult neighborhoods" for the failures. The state of Connecticut was given $25 million in funds to purchase and rehabilitate houses and buildings that were abandoned or foreclosed during the housing market collapse. However the audit cited instances where work was never completed and properties were left abandoned and falling down.
A federal audit revealed a litany of errors, poor documentation and questionable spending by the Bridgeport Housing Authority, including the use of $1.75 million of housing funds to pay for past-due bills instead of helping people pay for housing. The money, which was meant to be used for housing choice vouchers and low-rent reserve funds, was provided by the federal government. The Bridgeport Housing Authority - now called Park City Communities - is disputing this finding.