BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) _ Bridgeport schools Superintendent Paul Vallas, named Friday as the 2014 running mate of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, says leaving the Connecticut school system he has led for nearly two years “is not an easy decision.”

Vallas said he’s “extremely honored” by  “an unexpected and extraordinary opportunity” in his home state, and accepted knowing he would have to leave the job he has held in Connecticut’s largest city.

He said he’d work with Bridgeport’s newly elected school board as it searches for its own pick for superintendent, and “will not leave the district suddenly, or in a lurch.”
“Together we will focus on what is best for the district going forward,” Vallas said.
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch said “substantial improvements” have been made to the schools during Vallas’ tenure and wished him luck in “a very wonderful opportunity.”  He and Finch pointed to improvements they made along with the school board, including opening five new schools, and giving high school students access to college courses and their own laptop computers.

Vallas had led Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans school districts before being named interim superintendent in Bridgeport in 2012 after his predecessor’s contract was terminated under a state takeover of the district.
Vallas is appealing a Connecticut court ruling that he was given an improper waiver in his state superintendent’s certification. The lawsuit was filed by two Bridgeport residents.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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