Central Office Cuts? HA! Try Expansion

HCSBoard Seal

Almost exactly four months ago, I asked a simple question, “Where are the Central Office Cuts?”

This really wasn’t a difficult question, but it’s one that remains unanswered. Even though Alta Morrison also asked this question, and Dr. Richardson claimed that he was looking into that question and would get back to her, so far as they discussed this question in public, it remains unanswered.

And for the questions that Richardson did answer, he’s been shown to be wrong. On June 9th at the Grissom Closing Meeting, Dr. Richardson responded to my question about the unfair cuts made to special education by saying, “many of the aides will be rehired.”

We now know that that statement was also incorrect.

Richardson recommended and the board approved laying off nearly 300 Instructional Assistants. As of Thursday, August 18th, Dr. Wardynski reported that the system had rehired 137 Instructional Assistants. As not all of the instructional assistants employed by the system were actually fired in February and April, this means that we currently have significantly less than half of the instructional assistants we had a year ago.

(By the way, while I’m pleased that the system has hired eleven additional aides along with an Occupational Therapist and a Physical Therapist, the fact that all of these hirings occurred after the start of school proves that the Huntsville City Schools system was not prepared to meet the requirements of the IEPs on the first day of school. They were therefore not in compliance with Federal IDEA law.)

So where were the central office cuts? Well Dr. Richardson left town without making any so far as we are aware. And Dr. Wardynski? Well again, as far as we are aware, Dr. Wardynski has expanded the central office rather than cut it.

Here are the numbers.

On June 9, 2011 the central office had at least 70 people working in it. Those 70 salaries totaled $3,864,165.58.

Assuming that the board approves the hiring of a Deputy Superintendent and a Director of Community Engagement and Partnership Development, the central office will be significantly larger than it was less than three months ago.

The number of teachers employed on the other hand has significantly decreased.

First, Dr. Wardynski’s non-minimum salary is $175,000 per year. Considering that Dr. Wardynski had 11 months educational experience before being hired, that’s $55,000 more than he should have been offered. This is particularly true considering that our new teachers’ salaries are set at the state minimum.

Because of the deal that the board struck with Dr. Moore to get her to resign, Dr. Moore is currently receiving $99,000 until the end of the year, to sit at home.

So for the office of the superintendent, we’re currently paying $154,000 that we reasonably should not be paying.

Second, Dr. Wardynski has placed Herbert Wheeler on administrative leave with pay pending his hearing. Wheeler is earning $114,000 per year. Assuming that his hearing requires at least 60 days to resolve (a conservative estimate), and assuming that Mr. Wheeler actually loses, then we will be paying Mr. Wheeler at least $19,000.

If history is any indication, at the end of those 60 days, I would suspect that Dr. Wheeler will still be employed by the system. At which point we will be paying not just $114,000 for a single CSFO, but rather $247,000 for two CSFOs. (That’s certainly a “nationally competitive salary,” don’t you think?) Mr. Spinelli’s state-competitive salary represents an increase of $16,000 over Dr. Wheeler’s salary.

Third, Dr. Wardynski has hired a Director of Transition at a salary of $59,211 a year. This is a new position.

Fourth, Dr. Wardynski has posted the Director of Community Engagement and Partnership Development at a minimum salary of $58,791.59. That salary could go as high as $95,175.12. This is also a new position.

Fifth, Dr. Wardynski has posted the Deputy Superintendent position at a minimum salary of $84,217.06. That salary could go as high as $134,545.26. As our state-competitive CSFO makes $130,000, how much do you want to bet our new Deputy Superintendent will make closer to the maximum salary rather than the minimum? While this is not strictly speaking a new position, it was not a position that was filled on June 9, 2011.

And these are just the positions and salaries we know about.

So, by the end of the month, the central office could have potentially added at least three new positions (and two positions that currently have two employees on the books) and $422,931.38 to the $3,864,165.58 that was on the books on June 9th.

Dr. Wardynski has been employed for basically 49 days. Funny. I don’t remember reading that part of his 60 day plan included increasing the Central office budget by nearly half a million dollars. I thought we were in debt?

This is why I’m angry.

This is why I don’t believe them when they say there isn’t money to hire teachers to alleviate our overcrowded classrooms.

This is why I don’t believe them when they balk at hiring additional instructional assistants (the majority of whom have received a pay cut from their salaries last year. I suppose $10,000 a year was considered exorbitant.)

This is why I refuse to stop calling on Dr. Wardynski and the Board of Education to put students first.


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


  1. Well my friend, if history and other Broad educated superintendents are any indication, expect the central office to expand. That seems to be the methodology of graduates of the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems. And, as you once suspected, they love to take public schools and turn them into charter schools. As well as fire “well paid” and experienced teachers and bring in novice teachers from Teach for America, Inc.

    While charter schools and novice teachers haven’t happened yet, we are clearly seeing the institution of the bigger central management.

    I’d also argue that we are seeing the institution of another time honored Broad technique… intimidation. It is clear that Wardynski is “sending a message” with his lay offs and firings. And of COURSE the IEP’s weren’t met on the first day of school. Student’s First is not a tenant of the Broad system.

    Welcome to the reign of our very own Delores Umbridge.

    1. We have already seen another portion of this program when Casey announced at the last board meeting that he has hired about four teachers from the Teach for America program to teach in various schools across the system. I just don’t understand why others aren’t upset about all of this too.

      1. I didn’t realize he’d already hired Teach for America teachers.

        So he let go experienced local teachers and already replaced them with his clones? It’s worse than I thought.

    2. Delores . . . if I weren’t terrified, I’d be rolling on the floor laughing at your ability to capture the scene so completely.

  2. I just recently stumbled across your blog. I was searching for first hand experiences from parents that had kids on the Autism Spectrum that are enrolled in the Huntsville City School System. My son was just diagnosed at age 4, and will be entering school next year. I can’t lie and say that I am not totally scared stiff at what I am finding (nothing seems to be adequate)! I feel like we are entering into a world we know nothing about with the ADS and ADD diagnosis, but the confusion will double come time for school next year. If I, as a parent, am so terrified for my own child – I wonder how my son will feel?

    My oldest daughter started Kindergarten this year and the experience so far has been horrible. Thankfully, she has a wonderful teacher, but every other person inside the school we have had the misfortune of dealing with has been rude and unnecessarily defensive when presented with simple questions. It’s almost like they expect us to read their minds and know the school specific policies upfront. I can’t count how many times I have been yelled at for not knowing how things work.

    We have had so many bad experiences already with our daughter that doesn’t need special services, that I wonder how next year will be when my son has to enter this horribly broken system.

    Thanks for the good read, I am hoping to learn all I can from you between now and then – because I really do feel lost in all this……..

    1. Brittany,

      I’m sorry, and as much as anyone can understand, I know how you feel. My boy is just 6. He’s been diagnosed since he was 2.5 (although my wife knew much earlier.)

      I’m scared too.

      I’m really sorry to hear about the attitudes of the others in the school. I can’t defend it. All I can offer is that this year was not typical in my experience. The stress levels of the staff, faculty and administration at every school is off the charts right now. They are being asked to work much harder with much less support from the central office, board and superintendent. It’s a horrible situation all the way around.

      What I can tell you is this: my daughter (2nd grade) and my son (K) have both had excellent support from their teachers, staff and principals at their schools. The thing I’m most concerned about is that they do not have enough help because the focus of the board and superintendent seems to be on themselves rather than the students.

      Thanks for reading. I don’t know that I’m any more knowledgeable than anyone else, but I’m happy to share.

      Good luck.

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