An Open Letter to Mr. David Blair School Board Member of Huntsville City Schools

Mr. Blair:

Tonight you stated that you like to make decisions on data and not emotion. You also later expressed concern over the extensive cuts that have been made to the security staff in the reduction in force plan.

Frankly the data published as a part of the minutes from board meetings on February 10, 2011 and April 21, 2011 show that the deepest cuts are actually being made to special education personnel and not security personnel.

According to the board’s records, security cuts amounted to 5% of the total support personnel cuts made.

Special Education cuts, which include cuts of Instructional Assistants, and Interpreters account for 41% of the total support personnel cuts that have been made.

There were 14 security personnel laid off. There were 99 instructional assistants laid off. IA layoffs were seven times as high as the security layoffs. And this only considers Huntsville City employees. In addition to these cuts, Special Education is also losing 53% of the cuts made as a result of the cancellation of the ONIN contract, all of the Adaptive PE Teachers, and an unknown number of non-tenured teachers as well.

Respectfully, the deepest cuts were not to security; they were instead to Special Education.

We are placing at a minimum 41% of the budget cuts on just over 12% of the student population. These cuts have not been applied fairly and equitably.

If you want to be concerned about numbers, these are some that should concern you.

As should this: Alabama State Code 16-39-3 states quite clearly that, “If sufficient funds are not available to a school board to provide fully for all the provisions of this chapter as well as the educational needs of nonexceptional children, such board must prorate all funds on a per capita basis between exceptional and nonexceptional children.” The cuts recommended by Dr. Richardson and approved by you and the board have not been prorated proportionally between exception and nonexceptional children.

As you are a supporter of Dr. Wardynski’s leadership ability, I implore you to assist him to see that addressing these discrepancies must be one of his, and the board’s, highest priorities. It needs to be addressed before the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year.

Thank you for your service to our community.

Sincerely,

Russell Winn

 
Russell
"Children see magic because they look for it." --Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Jesus' childhood pal.

3 Comments

  1. Thank you for all the work you do on behalf of the students of Huntsville City Schools. While I do not have a special needs child, I find it criminal that so many of the cuts happened in the special education area. I loved your comment tonight about the reason for sluggish growth in our cities is because of the rising numbers of families turning to private schools and home schooling. And I appreciated that in one of your postings last week you mentioned that Jennie Robinson had reached out to the parents of Mt. Gap.

    Keep up the great work!
    Ann Kvach

    1. Thank so much.

      There is no basis for closing schools at all. Richardson himself said that in two years we will be on a solid financial footing without closing schools! So, why exactly are we wasting our evenings dealing with this?

      One of the things I was trying to point out tonight was simply that this lack of information is a consistent and regular pattern with our system’s leadership. The complete lack listening on the part of the two doctors up there is astonishing.

      You’re doing excellent work organizing for Monte Sano. If I had to guess, and it is just a guess, Monte Sano will not close, and the work y’all are doing will be largely responsible. You’ve represented your group well.

      Keep fighting, as someone on stage said tonight, “your thoughts and ideas can make a difference.

      Russell

  2. Ms. Kvach, and Mr. Winn – very articulate letter! As a parent of two children who went to Monte Sano (one who was in the “SPACE” classes, at the time, and one who was not, and needed some special support in reading), I can tell you without reservation or hesitation: I got the run around from the School Board on this issue of funding for special education, over and over. When I went to speak with the Administration about the SPACE program, all I heard was the the Special Ed area “gets all the money”. And the next day or so, I’d go to speak with them about Special Ed, and be told, “SPACE gets all the money”. It’s ridiculous. Regardless of that, I hope that Monte Sano School can be saved. It’s frightening to see Huntsville doing stupid things: abandoning good schools that are proudly and effectively serving neighborhoods, realigning our schools into areas that require bussing and long distances for students who would and could have been attending solid neighborhood schools. We should have seen the handwriting on the wall, when they closed Blossomwood .. it was the first domino to fall. Huntsville is getting too big for its britches, and it’s gotten greedy for federal dollars and trendy growth pathways. Joe Davis and even Loretta Spencer would not have succumbed to these trendy directions and dangerous compromising pathways. Tommy Battle (who ran a buffet restaurant and then a real estate business) has reached the limits of his capacity and experience to run the City of Huntsville. He ruined Britling’s when he got greedy and closed it, and now he’s got his sights set on ruining Huntsville. It’s a sad situation. The School Board and the City administration both have a stake in successful outcomes – it’s up to the Mayor to set the tone, and draw the limits as he understands them from his constituents. Time for Mr. Battle to go home! And nobody needs a “consultant” to come into a city the size of Huntsville and make stupid and expensive recommendations.

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