Board Hires A New (Another) CFO and Seventeen Teachers

8-2 Board Meeting


At their Special Meeting tonight, the Huntsville City Schools Board of Education hired one new CFO and seventeen teachers. Subtracting the five teachers who resigned and two offered leaves of absence, we netted ten teachers tonight five days before the beginning of school.


Twelve of these teachers were rehired from last year. Of these twelve, three are special education teachers.

These seventeen teachers now have five days (assuming they are able to work the weekend) to get ready for class at 8:00am, Monday morning.

Actually, they don’t even have that much time. One of those days, Thursday, is filled with the Teacher Institute.

Hopefully someone will take those five new teachers who will be starting from scratch under their wing and at least show them where their classrooms are before students arrive on Monday. I’m not worried; teachers do tend to look out for one another.

Of course, these seventeen are the lucky ones. There will likely be up to 63 teachers who are not hired until Thursday evening. While that bunch will get to skip the Teacher Institute, they will have three days to prepare.

Frankly all of those positions should have taken priority over the hiring of a CFO. I find it difficult to believe that I’m having to say this again, but it seems that I do: The Central Office Will Not Exist Without The Classroom.

Please, Dr. Wardynski, get your priorities in order.

Now For Something Completely Different

Before I move on to the new CFO, allow me a moment to thank Dr. Robinson and Dr. Wardynski for the new approach they took tonight in attempting to make the HR discussion more transparent. In talking openly about the contents of the report, they made it possible to at least glean some information from the report without having a copy. Why they don’t just publish these reports on the web, I don’t know, but I sincerely hope that they will continue to move further down this road in the future. One cannot combat rumor and hearsay with silence and secrecy. Free and open access to all of the system’s information is the only solution, and I thank them for taking some steps in the right direction tonight by openly discussing the Human Resources Report.


And now we return to our regularly scheduled program.

Introducing Frank Spinelli, The “Nationally Competitive” [“State Competitive“] CFO

Dr. Wardynski stated that, “all roads will lead through finance” in the future. As such, hiring a new CFO is a priority that cannot be delayed. So just as we are currently paying two superintendents, we are now paying two Chief School Financial Officers.


Not one. Two. How’s that for a solid financial decision?

You know we’re likely going to have to send the Aurora Public School System in Aurora, Colorado a “finders fee” of some sort fairly soon at the rate we’re signing away their employees. Maybe they’d like a fruit basket.

Mr. Frank Spinelli has been hired by the board for the next three years to serve as the Chief School Financial Officer upon the recommendation of Dr. Wardynski who worked with Mr. Spinelli as a consultant to Aurora Public Schools, the Colorado Department of Education and various charter schools.

Thanks to Mrs. McCaulley’s insistence, we also know that Mr. Spinelli will be making a yearly salary of $130,000 for the next three years. For some reason, Dr. Wardynski, taking a step back from his earlier adventures into transparency, seemed hesitant to share that Mr. Spinelli, his associate from Aurora, would be making $130,000 a year.

Do you think he might have thought the salary excessive? Let’s look at the tape:

McCaulley asked, “Are you going to discuss the salary?” Dr. Wardynski hesitated and then responded, “The salary is competitive with the larger districts in our state.”

After some additional prodding, he stated, “The salary is going to be $130,000 per year, and it is competitive with the larger districts in our state.”

Let’s take a moment to think about this.

We must be, according to Dr. Wardynski, competitive with “what it would take to bring someone in from out of state.” Not only that, but our system seeks to be competitive on a “national level.”

So THAT’S what he meant when he claimed during his interview that Huntsville should be nationally recognized in five years. Wow. We really need to give him a raise. A five year project finished in just under one month.

So, Huntsville City Schools, a system that is either $15.3 million, $18.3 million, $20 million or possibly even $40 million dollars in debt must be competitive on even a national level state level when it comes to administrative salaries like Mr. Spinelli’s and Dr. Wardynski’s. However, in regards to teacher’s salaries, we just cannot afford to pay more than the Alabama State Minimum.

Mr. Spinelli’s salary and contract was approved by the board unanimously.

As I have written before, on April 21, 2011, this same school board voted to cancel all step raises for existing teachers. At that same meeting, this board voted to adopt the state minimum salary schedule for its teachers. But unlike our teachers, Mr. Spinelli’s salary must be competitive on a national level state level. Unlike our teachers, Dr. Wardynski deserves $55,000 more than the minimum salary as well.

I suppose it makes Wardynski’s salary seem a little more reasonable when you consider that he’s supervising people making $130,000 a year, doesn’t it? (Oh, excuse me, two CFOs making a combined $243,000 a year, and another superintendent making $99,000 to sit at home.)

$175,000 seems better all the time, doesn’t it?

You know, Dr. Wardynski has only eleven months experience in education, and all of those eleven months were spent in a central office. So naturally, his emphasis and focus are going to be on staffing the central office and making sure that the salaries of the central office are competitive at a national level state level. It seems fitting, once again, to remind Dr. Wardynski of one simple fact:

The Central Office Will Not Exist Without The Classroom.


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


  1. Here’s my question for the day. Times reported that ex-CFO is appealing his firing, and as I remember the article, there are 2 levels for appeal, which must mean months and months of hearings.

    So: I assume he continues to get paid during this spell. If he loses, does he keep the money he “earned” [gag] during this period? If so, of course he’d appeal — anyone would, merit or not (unless his lawyer fees exceed this pay).

    And about that: does he pay his own lawyer fees? How much will Brooks and co. rack up from this debacle, whether they win or lose?

    Maybe it would be cheaper to just let him sit home too.

    Heck, if whole central office sat home, that very valuable piece of property they occupy could be sold and all problems solved.

    In the meantime, why not sell that ugly parking lot property and let the Central Office crew, no exceptions, park at Stone or Butler and ride a couple of buses to work?

    1. My bet would be the appeals process would take approximately 6 months, and yes, he will be paid during that time. Yes, he keeps the money he earned while appealing the decision. I would suspect, but do not know for certain, that he has legal insurance which will cover at least the legal fees for this period.

      “Ride a couple of buses to work.” 🙂

  2. Did you ever consider the possibility that “The central office will not exist without the classroom” is exactly the point, exactly the agenda?
    The Broad academy, of which he is a graduate, has a reputation of producing people who work against the concept of public education and towards privatization, i.e. charter schools or for-profit schools. The idea is that the “market”, a false god if ever there was one, can produce where government can’t.
    Hiring in people at high salaries is a hallmark of this approach.
    While I have no evidence that this is Wardynski’s agenda, this is something to watch.

    1. Yes, I have considered that, and you’re right it is something to watch. It’s troubling to see the leader of our school system putting the actually schools and especially the students last.

      I am worried, and I am watching.

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