HCS Board Meeting and Budget Hearings Today

8-2 Board Meeting

The Huntsville City Schools Board of Education will meet today for the first of two Budget Hearings followed by the regular board meeting. The Budget hearing begins at 4:00pm with the Board Meeting to begin at 5:30pm at the Merts Boardroom.

The budget hearing will be first of two public hearings to discuss the budget for the coming fiscal year. (The second meeting will be held, next Thursday, September 8, 2011.)

The agenda for the board meeting has been published on the board website.

In addition to the budget hearings, the board will be discussing a few interesting points:

  • Free 2 Teach software presentation  The Free 2 Teach Program is a non-profit organization sponsored by The School Foundation. This program will provide free school supplies to teachers working in any of the three Madison County school systems. This is a great idea. It will be opening in January and staffed by volunteers.
  • Superintendent Goals for Evaluation
  • Policy 104-20, Promotion – Revision
  • Procedure 104-26, Salary Plan for Administrative, Supervisory and Support Personnel – Revision
  • Master Compensation Plan DRAFT – Revision

There will be several other items up for discussion as well, but these are the ones that strike me as out of the ordinary.

First the Free 2 Teach software looks like a decent classroom management software. I’m glad to see that they are at least considering support to aid the classroom teacher and its management. As I wrote above, Free 2 Teach is a non-profit started by The School Foundation to provide schools supplies to teachers in all three Madison Co systems free school supplies. Incredible idea. Once they start accepting volunteers and open for business in January, I hope everyone will support this great program. I’ll write more about it later.

It’s really difficult to evaluate the other four work session items. Hopefully the Superintendent Goals for Evaluation will offer details on how the board is planning to evaluate the superintendent. This truly is crucial to maintaining checks and balances upon the superintendent. We should be able to gain a clear understanding of just how serious the board is in doing their job of supervising the Superintendent.

If history is any indication, these goals will be generic and not particular helpful. I hope that I am wrong.

The policy and procedure revisions are more troubling.

The current Policy 104-20, Promotion states:

It is the policy of the Huntsville City Schools to provide promotional opportunity for all employees and to encourage employees to develop and pursue career goals which facilitate consideration for promotional opportunities. The Board of Education shall consider and determine all promotions of employees based upon the recommendations of the Superintendent. All employees considered for promotion must possess the necessary qualifications and/or appropriate certification as required.

Employees who wish to be considered for promotion must submit for each position specific credentials which shall include, but not be limited to, “Request for Promotion Consideration” and vita/resume, as appropriate. If the individual is not selected for the requested position, appropriate notification shall be given and all documentation shall be returned. Openings for positions shall be posted on the bulletin boards in schools and centers and advertised on the Job Line.

The salary rate of an employee who is promoted to a position at a higher grade will be set at the step of the new grade which provides a full step increase in the former grade or at the minimum step of the new grade, whichever is higher. The exception would be where the employee has approved, documented experience in the new classification*, which may be used in placing the employee at a step higher than described above. If the employee, because of approved documented experience, is to be placed at a higher step, the following is to be used:

Experience In Classification (1-4 years) Step 1; (5-7 years) Step 2; (8-> years) Step 3.

* Classification means the general area of experience, i.e., “administration” will be counted as experience for all areas of administration.

If I had to guess, I would look for an increase of the number of years of service required before an employee can move to a higher step, but I don’t have any idea what is being planned here.

The current Procedure 104-26, Salary Plan for Administrative, Supervisory and Support Personnel states:

It is the policy of the Huntsville City Schools to assure organizational accountability and equitable compensation for the performance of the duties of each position within the system. Accordingly, the Board of Education authorizes the Superintendent to direct the preparation of salary schedules for all administrative, supervisory and support personnel. The salary schedules shall be presented to the Board for approval.

I have no idea at this point what will be (or can be) revised about this Policy, but again it will be telling to see the direction the Board takes with this. Will they give the Superintendent more control over salaries and promotions? Will they reduce his influence?

Finally, we have the “Master Compensation Plan DRAFT – Revision.”

So far as I have been able to tell, there is not currently a Master Compensation Plan on the site. (If it’s there, I haven’t been able to find it.)

What I did find was a lawsuit dealing with a Master Compensation Plan from 1992 when Dr. Mary Jane Caylor was superintendent. If you’re interested in reviewing it, you may find a court transcript here.

Either way, we should receive a clear indication of the Board’s intentions toward supervising Dr. Wardynski after today’s meeting.

The meeting will be broadcast on ETV (Comcast 17, Knology 99-it has recently moved from 71), and at the Huntsville City Schools website. I will also be live-tweeting the meeting @russwinn. You can follow on Twitter or on the Geek Palaver Facebook Page.

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

11 Comments

  1. OK, I have been “lurking” for 6 months, I LIKE what you are doing, but have a few things on my mind, and just now found the time to sit down and compose them…

    I AGREE that the Super should have accountability, but (just playing Devil’s Advocate here, as a former Business Owner of several businesses)… let’s SUPPOSE:

    He has walked into a DISASTER. He can’t be everywhere at ONCE, and the only way to get a grip on things is to hire people/assistants underneath him. Just like the CEO of a company, they are going to have District Managers and Managers underneath them, primarily for the purpose of reporting back to them on what is happening within the District (and admittedly, it’s pretty BIG for one person to keep an eye on everything at once..)

    I AGREE with your dispute that he pays them Comparable wages, while teachers make Minimum….

    Let’s also suppose (devil’s advocate) that he is doing the ONLY THING he knows to do to start the ball rolling with some Accountability, by assigning new Assistants to keep an eye on things and report what’s “REALLY” happening in our schools?!?

    Just thinking here. Not busting your chops! 😉 LOL… What IF we give him some time, as he has already done some drastic FIRING, and appears to be headed in the right direction?!?

    Dusty

    ——————–

    P.S. My personal dispute is with Chapman Middle School… YES, I live BEHIND Chapman Middle, my son attends Chapman Elementary. My daughter attends ASFL, as we didn’t feel that Chapman Middle was “Safe” enough for her to attend (and we are COMPLETELY OPEN parents, and willing to overlook a LOT!)

    I work from home, and contacted then Principal James Waters about the behavior of his students on the playground. Primarily that I could hear the “F-bomb” being dropped on the playground about 10-15 times per hour, and there appeared to be NO ADULTS in supervision of them (that I could see..)

    I also BCC’ed the email to “Super” Ann Moore at the time… I receieved NO RESPONSE from Mr Waters (NONE…ZERO…NADA…), and of course NONE from Moore…. and several weeks later he was fired (coincidental?) …

    At any rate, due to our MESSED UP School “Appeals” System in Alabama, he was allowed to Appeal, and even stated, “I worked as hard as I could possibly work since I’ve been here,” Waters said. “I love the children and the families. I’m just sorry that I couldn’t produce as much as expected.” (SOURCE: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2011/03/huntsville_principals_dealing.html)

    YET, back in January 2011 (long before his FIRING), according to the Franklin County Times Newspaper in Franklin County, Alabama, he had APPLIED FOR a Superintendent Job THERE! Source: http://www.franklincountytimes.com/2011/01/26/14-apply-for-superintendents-post/

    BULLSH*T, Waters. If you CARED, you would have at least had the decency to respond to my email (which I BCC’ed to MOST ALL of the HSV City Schools Board Members, as well…) You DON’T CARE. You’re looking for ANOTHER JOB on the side!!!

    So, my personal problem is this: You’re not doing your job. You GOT FIRED. You DIDN’T WANT TO BE THERE (you were applying for jobs ELSEWHERE???).. Don’t APPEAL IT. Get over it. Move on. The School System doesn’t WANT YOU, and you obviously DON’T WANT THEM. You don’t give a SH*T about the property values and neighborhoods in this area, because you were prepared to MOVE anyhow! Give up your job to someone that CARES about the neighborhood and the children therein…

    This is an exact copy of my email that I sent:

    ——————–

    As someone who lives in a house that backs up to Chapman Middle School… (Especially on a day like today when it is unusually windy and voices carry easily,) I have heard MORE than enough screaming of profanity and 4-letter words from the students attending recess/P.E. outside… all the way inside my house with the windows open.

    Are there any teachers/chaperones that monitor this outdoors time?

    I know that you have your hands full already with students that age, as I have a middle schooler myself that attends A.S.F.L., but as your own personal Introduction on your school’s website states: “I believe that students should always be treated with respect. I also believe that students should treat the teachers and staff with the same courtesy. I believe discipline and classroom management are essential for a child to learn and for a teacher to teach. I believe that parents and community involvement is very important in making a school successful.”

    Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter,
    Dusty Graham

    1. Dusty,

      I’m all for people playing devil’s advocate. EVERYONE needs an advocate! 🙂 (And everyone, even opinionated bloggers, need to be held accountable.) So thanks. Feel free to bust any of my chops anytime.

      You make some valid points. Yes, turning things around does take time, and I fully recognize that change was necessary. However, how we do things is just as important as what we do.
      So far, Dr. Wardynski’s methods are what I’m mostly troubled about.

      Does Dr. Wardynski need and deserve support to do his job? Of course, everyone does. But right now there are three people in the central office (and one volunteer) with job titles specifically designed to help the superintendent do his job. So under Dr. Moore, during the final year at least, we were paying her exorbitant salary of $197,000 and an administrative assistant at about $50,000 a year. So about $250,000 a year.

      Right now we are paying Dr. Wardynski $175,000, Dr. Moore $99,000, Mr. King $59,211, and two Administrative assistants about $85,000 (if memory serves). That’s $418,211.00. To that we’re planning to add (probably at the next board meeting) at least $60,000 for the community relations person and $85,000 for the Assistant Superintendent (I’m sure both of those salaries will be much closer to the maximum rather than the minimum, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.) So that brings our total for Superintendent Support to $563,211.00 (4 of these positions are brand new positions. They’re not here to be his eye’s on the schools. (He has principals, and a large central office staff to do just that. He has these five people basically doing aspects of the job we pay him for.)

      In other words in two and a half months he will have more than doubled the amount we were paying for a superintendent in June (even if you include Dr. Richardson’s consulting salary.)

      Tonight Dr. Wardynski was celebrating the hiring of 8 certified teachers for para-professional positions at Goldsmith-Schiffman ES. This was cause for celebration because those students were getting the benefit of two teachers in their overcrowded classrooms. So instead of hiring one or two more full-time teachers to make all of the classrooms smaller, Dr. Wardynski prefers to hire 8 out of work, certified teachers at para-professional rates (about $10k on average), on a part time basis, offering no benefits.

      He’s perfectly happy to hire 5 full time employees to help him (and probably more to come it would seem), but just cannot find the money to hire two full time teachers?

      Having a teacher and a part time paraprofessional in the room for part of the day is no substitute for reducing class sizes.

      If he shows me that he is willing to take an equal part in carrying the financial burden, I’ll be happy to give him some time. But he doesn’t appear to me to be moving in the right direction as you suggestion. He instead appears to be moving in a direction that balances the budget on the backs of our children and their teachers.

      And that I will not have.

      A significant portion of the discussion tonight was concerning the evaluation of the superintendent in order to justify giving him a bonus. When was the last time our teachers received a bonus for their hard work?

      Thanks for taking the time to share your views and opinions. Even when I disagree with them, I still really appreciate them. Without listening to others who see things from a different perspective, I’ll never understand that the thing that feels like a wall to me is actually an elephant.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. You mentioned adding aides and reducing units on tweeter, does this mean that additional special education aides are going to be added?

    1. That tweet was unrelated to special ed, but indicative of Wardynski’s approach to balancing the budget. Cut teachers and units, and hire teachers on a part time basis so we don’t have to pay benefits.

  3. Wow… It it just gets even better.. Today at Chapman Middle, 2 kids stabbed each other (albeit one was with a ballpoint pen..)

    It is SAD that when I found out, I called my wife at work, and said, “Do any of our friends that live around here have kids at Chapman Middle?”

    You want to know the answer?

    “NO. NOT ONE.”

    Everyone that we know has either placed their child in a Magnet School, or moved to another School zone… And Ironically, they all live in a 12 block square radius around our house (Behind Chapman Middle School.) YES, they ALL attended Chapman Elementary, which is the SAME building, though…

    It is SAD that the primary makeup of a school in our OWN BACKYARD is comprised of kids that get bussed in from other areas, due to an archaic Segregation Law that started in the 1960’s, and partly due to the “No Child Left Behind Act.”

    Now, before you say that I’m a RACIST, as, YES, most of the kids that are “Bussed in” are primarily Black…(And I’m sure that someone out there, not KNOWING ME, will accuse me of that).., Please understand this:

    1.) I grew up in SW Missouri.. I didn’t grow up with Racism and Prejudice around me. One time when I was about 7, my grandparents came to the door, and I screamed, “The N*ggers are here!”… I honestly had ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE what that word meant, and must have picked it up on T.V. or a Movie. After my dad got done beating me with a belt, my mother washed my mouth out with LAVA SOAP (Yep, the stuff with PUMICE in it!!)… I never uttered that word again, once my mother explained to me what it meant!

    I said that to say this.. I moved here after High School in 1990, and was immediately exposed to Racism for the first time… And even today, 21 years later, I still don’t understand it… It is a LOT of what holds our State back, the “Old School Southern” mentality.

    2.) We were TERRIFIED for our own daughter to attend Chapman Middle, once she became that age, as are most of our friends who had kids the same age. It is reported that there are (or were at one time), numerous students that wore Monitoring-type ANKLE BRACELETS to school.. Today’s instance of Violence is NOT uncommon in schools any more, unfortunately, but it is becoming INCREASINGLY MORE COMMON under the Current Principal, Dr. James Waters.

    So, our only option, not being able to afford Private School, was to apply to a Magnet School. Our daughter is in her 2nd year at the Academy of Science and Foreign Language, and we have had NO KNOWN instances of Stabbings, Fights, Drug Dogs having to be called into the School, etc…. (At least not any that have been brought to my attention!)

    And GUESS WHAT? The breakdown of White/Black/Hispanic students for both schools are as follows:

    Chapman Middle School: 233 Black, 70 White, 16 Hispanic.
    Academy Science/Foreign: 249 Black, 112 White, 48 Hispanic.

    So, the numbers by percentage are VIRTUALLY IDENTICAL!!

    —————————

    So, my point is this: Why can’t I send my child to the Middle School that is in our own BACK YARD, out of FEAR, and what is being done by the School System about it? What is “Broken” here in this situation??

    1. The Principal at A.S.F.L, Dr. Tammy Summerville, sends out on average 3-4 emails per week, keeping parents informed of anything that is going on. I talked to her by phone last week and personally THANKED HER for all the emails that she sends, and her genuine care and concern for the students… According to my daughter, she sees Dr. Summerville out-and-about in the Halls ALL THE TIME, talking to students and making Contact with them…

    2. As my previous post stated above, you have a Principal that has been FIRED once already, doesn’t want to be there, as evidenced by his Application for other Jobs right before being fired, (and subsequently REHIRED upon Appeal,) and OBVIOUSLY is not in control of the STUDENTS.

    3. What can I DO? I guess this entire post was NOT to hijack Russell’s Blog with my OWN Concerns, but I see someone out there that CARES and is trying to hold the School System accountable….. I PERSONALLY don’t know WHAT TO DO, and this is pretty much a “Cry for Help!” I feel like I just want to SCREAM, draw Media attention to this Issue, Confront the School Board, as a Principal’s “Performance” should be based on MORE than just Test Scores!!

    —————————-

    So, at what point does Wardynski step in and say “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?”

    People are moving out of the Oak Park/Chapman Heights area right-and-left, as NO ONE wants to send their children to the Chapman Middle School, as they are all terrified for the well-being of their Child.

    As a result, property values are falling, in a well-kept-secret type Neighborhood that is FULL of Affordable Quality Homes, an extreme Sense of “Community”, Local Ball Parks, and Families…

    I’m not going to sit and watch all of NorthEast Huntsville go downhill, because of a School System and Principal that obviously CANNOT (or WILL NOT?) Control the Children!!

  4. Oh, I forgot to Add: Throw in there that Dr. James Waters was hired to be the Principal at Chapman Elementary (by the WONDERFUL Roy Ann Moore,) after being an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Principal in Tennessee… At a school with a completely different Profile of students (Economic, Behavioral, Etc…)

    The man WAS NOT (and in my Opinion, Still IS NOT) Qualified to be the Principal of the School that he is at.

    He should be transferred, terminated, etc… IMMEDIATELY… (Sigh)… But I guess our wonderful “Renewal Contracts” System with the Schools will probably prevent that, UNLESS it can be proven that his job is not being done adequately…

    I just WANT THE SCHOOL BACK to what it used to be when my wife went there years ago… Where children aren’t AFRAID to go there!

    1. OOPS.. He is Principal at Chapman MIDDLE, after being an ELEMENTARY Principal… Sorry about the Typo… A LOT of typing!

  5. Fired off an email today to Super Ward, Birney, and Blair… Asking them to look into the Leadership and “Issues” there…

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