School Board and School Closing Meeting Tonight

Updated Below:

Tonight, (June 16th) the Huntsville City Schools Board of Education will convene their bi-weekly meeting beginning at 5:30pm at Columbia High School Auditorium (300 Explorer Blvd.). Please make every effort to attend this meeting and the School Closing meeting that will follow.

Although the board has not yet posted their agenda for the evening, they have announced that it will include a vote on Dr. Wardynski’s contract of $175,000 per year for three years. Additionally, Dr. Richardson has been announcing at the school closing meetings that he will bring at least two items before the board tonight as well: he will recommend the extension of the Demographer’s contract (Dr. Salmon is employed by Gude Management. Gude Management has already received $75,000 for the Demographer’s report.), and Richardson has stated that he has found an addition $1.5 million or so cuts that he is recommending to the board.

As the School Closing Meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30pm, it would be astonishing if they actually allowed public comments during the board meeting about these items. As the board members have merely been attending the closing meetings (and not participating in them), they should allow public comments on all three. The school closing meeting should have been rescheduled to accommodate the board meeting. As it was not, I can only deduce that the board will be pleased to be able to claim that their meeting can last only an hour. It’s nice to have political cover.

This non-responsiveness to public comments and opinions is becoming a pattern. As public interest increases, their willingness to allow public participation in the process has decreased. But that’s a posting for another day.

Here’s what I believe will happen tonight: The board will quickly hear and approve the exorbitant salary for Dr. Wardynski. They will then hear and approve whatever recommendations Dr. Richardson chooses to bring before them. They will not allow public comment on any of these decisions. The meeting will be promptly adjourned at 6:30pm to allow for the school closing meeting to begin. At that time, the board members will quietly take their seats in the back of the auditorium and allow their consultants to field the questions about the flawed demographer’s report.

It’s nice to have political cover when making unpopular and more importantly unfounded decisions.

Regardless of the sense of inevitability that the board is attempting to infuse into the school closing process, you should still come out and make your voice heard. While Dr. Richardson is suggesting that additional meetings about the closings will should be held in the future, his contract with the board will end at the end of the month of June. In other words, this may be your next to the last chance to speak out on the issue of school closings.

Take advantage of it.

(If you cannot attend, and as it is unlikely that the board meeting will be televised as it is in a new location, I will be live-tweeting both meetings. You may follow me on twitter @russwinn if you are interested.)

Update #1:

ETV will be broadcasting the Board meeting tonight at 5:30pm. They will not be broadcasting the School Closing Meeting that will immediately follow the board meeting. (No, it doesn’t make sense to me either.) If you can’t attend the board meeting, please tune in to Comcast Channel 17 or Knology Channel 71 at 5:30pm.

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