Bridgeport Public Schools welcomes students, new superintendent
A new superintendent started at Bridgeport Public Schools this week. Dr. Carmela Levy-David is Bridgeport’s fifth superintendent in 10 years.
After a long stint in Fort Bend, Texas, at one of the 50 largest school districts in the country, Levy-David says she plans to offer Bridgeport some stability.
Levy-David says cultural responsiveness is an area she is focusing on in her new role. She says the district’s diversity speaks to her, she immigrated from Panama and learned English in American schools.
Levy-David pointed to her experience guiding her former district through Hurricane Harvey and the COVID-19 pandemic when asked about the challenges of the new job.
"I survived Hurricane Harvey in Texas, and everybody thought that that was just going to be the end-all for the way that we did business. And three years later, we were right back where we started, fully recovered with everybody rebuilt," said Levy-David.
A new statewide report indicates that language arts, math and science scores, as well as attendance, are lower than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic. Levy-David believes the approach for Bridgeport requires outreach.
"We have individuals that actually go knock on doors when kids are not coming to school, and we make sure that we are closing any barriers," she said.
Last year in Bridgeport, some of those challenges included teacher staffing. Seventy students were moved from Wilbur Cross School to the Thomas Hooker School in January due to the vacancies.
"We are not in a position where we're going to have to transfer students from one campus to another this year," she said.
Levy-David says that won’t happen this year, and she’s directing efforts to raise teachers’ wages to boost recruitment.
“I remember starting my teaching career and I remember my salary being $25,000 a year," Levy-David said. “I am working really hard with our elected officials, with the state and with our Board of Education to ensure that we can provide a living wage for our teachers.”
There are about 70 teacher vacancies across the district's 39 schools, but Levy-David says they're working so students will not be affected negatively.
"Every child, regardless of where they come from, regardless of their background, regardless of their parents' resources, deserves a great education," Levy-David said.