The Huntsville City School Board is currently in the process of making their decision concerning who should be the next superintendent of our school system. The final three candidate have completed there interview processes and now the board is conferring and arriving at a decision concerning who the city’s top educator should be to help lead us over the coming years.
As we have learned over the past months and years, the superintendent of Huntsville City Schools is an extremely powerful position. Additionally, Dr. Richardson has recommended that the position actually have more power than it currently does. As I’ve said before, I think this is a bad idea, but we work with the system that we have rather than the system that we hope to have. As such, the position of Superintendent is a crucial position. We have to have the right person.
Watch the Interviews
The first and best place to start in this process is to watch and evaluate the three interviews that took place this past Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, May 23-25th. If you missed these interviews, they will be re-broadcast on ETV on Saturday, May 28th and Sunday May 29th according to the following schedule:
- 3:00pm – Dr. Daniel Brigman
- 5:00pm – Mr. Brett Springston
- 7:00pm – Dr. Casey Wardynski
I realize that six hours of time is difficult to come by especially over a holiday weekend. At a minimum, please try and watch the presentation of each of the three candidates. These presentation occur in the first 10 minutes of the interview process and offer details covering what each candidate would do in the first 60 days of their term. These presentations represent the priorities of each candidate.
Review the News Articles
Additionally, I would recommend that you also read the three articles by Crystal Bonvillian of the Huntsville Times on each of the candidates. You may find each of the articles here:
- Dr. Daniel Brigman focuses on student achievement during second Huntsville visit
- Communication key for Huntsville superintendent candidate Brett Springston
- Dr. Casey Wardynski seeks to bring leadership, integrity to Huntsville superintendent post
Review the Applications
Here are links to each of the applications of the three candidates. I would recommend that you read through each of these applications for a general feel for the candidates. You may download the applications in Adobe Acrobat format below.
- Dr. Daniel Brigman’s Application HCS Superintendent Candidate
- Mr. Brett Springston’s Application HCS Superintendent Candidate
- Dr. Casey Wardynski’s Application HCS Superintendent Candidate
Do a Google Search for each of the Candidates
Here are a few links for each of the candidates that offer various information from their home systems and backgrounds.
Dr. Daniel Brigman: Communication and transparency seem to be goals for Dr. Brigman as can be seen from his current position as the superintendent of Macon County Schools.
- Macon County School System website
- The Superintendent’s Blog
- The Macon County School Board publishes their “Budget Basics”
- There appear to be no major “red-flags” concerning Dr. Brigman.
Mr. Brett Springston:
- This is a copy of an award against Mr. Springston and his system for violating the first amendment rights of a central office employee who was attempting to defend the rights of a student. http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/08/25/Brownsville.pdf
- This is the video announcing his appointment as superintendent. http://www.valleycentral.com/news/story.aspx?id=391202
- This is a press release announcing his plans to lead his system through budget cuts between $15 and $50 million dollars. http://www.bisd.us/PDFs/AdsPress_Release/2011/03_march/35_Superintendent_letter_ENGL.pdf
Dr. Casey Wardynski:
- Here’s a link to the Broad Superintendent’s Academy. Dr. Wardynski after retiring as a Colonel from the U.S. Army attended a week-end session academy over a period of 10 month in 2010 to learn how to be a superintendent. While still attending the academy, Dr. Wardynski took the CFO position with the Aurora Public Schools in July 2010. He has one year of experience in an educational system.
- His dissertation is entitled, Military Compensation in the Age of Two-Income Households: Adding Spouses Earnings to the Compensation Policy Mix.
- He was instrumental in the development of the Army’s First Person Shooter called America’s Army.
- There appear to be no major “red-flags” concerning Dr. Wardynski.
Contact your School Board Representative
In order to help shape the discussion about the next superintendent, please contact your School Board Representative. I have linked to their contact information on the HCS School Board Contact Information Page. Please do your own research and make up your own mind. Then contact your representative to share with him or her your recommendations for the next Superintendent of Huntsville City Schools.
The School Board will be making their final decision on Thursday, June 2, 2011. Please contact your representative before that time.
GeekPalaver Endorsement: Dr. Daniel Brigman
As a parent with two children attending elementary schools in the Huntsville City Schools system, I expect to be a part of this system for at least the next 12 to 15 years. I am committed to seeing this system through it’s current crisis of leadership and financial constraints. In short, we’re not planning a move to Madison and we’re not going to place our children in private or a home-schooling setting. What happens in the next week with this decision will likely affect my children until they go to college. In short, it doesn’t get any more real than this. As I have written on several occasions, I am deeply concerned about the complete lack of transparency that I currently see in the leadership of Huntsville City Schools. Furthermore, as the parent of a special needs child, I am troubled by the fundamental unfairness of the cuts that are currently being made to services offered to special needs students. (This population is bearing the brunt of the cuts.)
Frankly, I am astonished that Mr. Brett Springston was even granted an interview given his disturbing history and the fact that his current system is facing a deficit far greater than even the one we currently face. Perhaps Dr. Moore should apply with Brownsville Independent School District as she could immediately cut their deficit in half. Furthermore, Mr. Springston seemed generally unprepared for many of the questions he faced this past Tuesday. If the Board is seriously considering him, I may have to give serious consideration to making a move to Madison after all.
Dr. Casey Wardynski, however, impressed me with his forthrightness and his ability to affect change in the system. I do have some concerns about his ability to operate in a transparent manner. For solid reasons, the Army often must operate in secrecy. I understand and support that. But those thirty years of experience doing so will not prepare Dr. Wardynski to operate in the transparent manner that must be required for the superintendent of Huntsville City Schools. Secrecy has gotten us into this mess. It will not get us out of it.
Additionally when I look at Dr. Wardynski’s resume, I find myself asking one simple question: If I had to choose between a surgeon who had twelve years of medical education and seven years of surgical experience on top of his or her education on the one hand and a surgeon who had attended a weekend seminar for ten months with less than one year’s experience working in the hospital’s financial office, who would I choose?
There can be no justification in my mind for choosing as the top educator in the city an individual who has no formal training, no teaching experience, and little more than a collection of seminars to prepare him. Simply put, Dr. Wardynski, while impressive personally, is simply not prepared to lead this system.
Therefore, I am confident to endorse Dr. Daniel Brigman as the next Superintendent of Huntsville City Schools.
Dr. Brigman has seven years of experience as the superintendent of two schools systems. In both systems his central priority seems to have been opening up clear channels of communication with the stakeholders in the system. He believes in a model of leadership that is built upon trust, honesty and openness. In my opinion, these are the central qualities missing from the leadership of our system today.
He is committed to following the law as a part of his leadership style. Again as our system is the most frequently sued system in the state, leadership that seeks to follow the law will be a refreshing change. Furthermore, Dr. Brigman stated in his interview on Monday that one of his top priorities would be to examine the central office for areas of redundancy that my be cut to improve efficiency. He clearly stated that the guiding purpose of the central office should be to serve students. Again, this will be a refreshing change.
Finally, as a parent of a special needs child, it was clear to me that only Dr. Brigman currently holds a clear understanding and concern for making sure that all children have access to an excellent education. He is committed to improving parental access to the classrooms and to the decision-making processes that the superintendent and school board will face.
For these reasons, and frankly also because of his commitment to educate his own children in the system he is charged with leading, I am pleased to endorse Dr. Brigman for Superintendent of Huntsville City Schools. I am convinced that he is the right choice to lead the rocket-city school system back to the pinnacle of education not only in Huntsville, but across the nation.