School Board Meeting Thursday at 8:30 AM

HCSBoard Seal

There will be a special called Huntsville City Schools school board meeting tomorrow (Thursday, September 29, 2011) at 8:30am to discuss the purchasing of Planware – Student Locator, School Boundary Planning School Bus Routing Software, to approve the hiring of additional personnel in the HR report, and to vote on principal contracts at Blossomwood and Monte Sano. I do not know if the contracts being discussed are new contracts, renewals or cancellations. If someone knows, please let me know.

The HR report will reportedly include a new Occupational Therapist for Challenger Elementary. Challenger Elementary has been without an OT for the past 14 school days, and reportedly, a new OT will be hired tomorrow and start on Friday of this week.

Supposedly, the new OT will be making up the missed OT sessions on Fridays for the next 14 weeks. There’s been little to no explanation about how replacing one over-worked OT with one other OT who is now at least two weeks behind will “fix” the problem, but I’m glad that they are at least doing this much.

They should also approve as a part of the HR report the transfer of Ms. Jin Debow from Williams Elementary to Challenger Elementary to alleviate the overcrowding in a special needs resource room at Challenger that has 12 students. Supposedly, Williams Elementary has two special needs resource rooms with approximately 4 students in each. These two rooms are being combined into one room of eight, and Ms. Debow will be transferred to Challenger so that the room with 12 can be split in half.

Quick rhetorical question: If there were two resource rooms of four at Williams and two resource rooms of twenty at Challenger (which grew to 22, as classes almost always do), why didn’t this transfer take place before school began? Doing this proactively rather than retroactively would have allowed the students to have already made the adjustment to a new teacher at the beginning of the year rather than two months in. As a result, at least 30 students–who have difficulty adjusting to change–at two schools are being forced to change mid-stream. This type of planning really must improve. [I’ve learned that these numbers probably aren’t correct. There were at least three resource rooms at Williams. But I do still wish that the Superintendent, upon completion of his review of Special Education on August 4th could have realized that a classroom operating at capacity would likely grow at some point during the school year.]

As many parents have said when they heard the news yesterday, “Finally.”

This is the problem with overloading your teachers and staff: when one person leaves, there’s no replacement available. Once a replacement can be found, this person is then forced to play “catch-up” for a third of the year, thereby, overworking the replacement.

This problem is repeating itself all over the system. Everywhere, that is, except the upper levels of the central office.

Despite the unusual timing of the meeting, I will be in attendance. As always, the meeting will be broadcast on ETV (Comcast 17, Knology 99), 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.


I have asked that the board review and publicly address the fact that Special Needs students are carrying 61% of the total cuts in the system at the next regular board meeting scheduled for October 11th. I have been informed by my board member that the issue will be discussed privately with Dr. Wardynski and the board president. I have asked that this be made an agenda item for that meeting. If you agree, please contact your board member and request the same.

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


  1. The buzz it that he is sending the current Monte Sano principal to blossomwood and then putting someone else there.

    1. So Dr. Vasile was promoted to the central office (what’s her title?). Mrs. Finley is going to Blossomwood. (I wonder how Monte Sano feels about that?) And they’re hiring a new principal for the Monte Sano position.

      At the last board meeting, Dr. Wardynski said that Aaron King, director of transition would be transitioning into a principal’s position. I wonder if this is it, already?

      Speaking of Mr. King, it would be nice if the new organizational chart could be posted on the system’s website . . .

  2. Her title (vasile) is the director of empowerment, which is another made up position. Helen Scott was approved as the Director of Elementary Education just weeks ago, but he will only let her lead non-performIng schools (or those needing management..as he puts it. Why do we need two people to lead elementary schools???? Another waste of money!! The Board should be held to task allowing this. There is a clear double standard here and it is awful!!!!

    1. Vasile’s title is actually Director of Empowerment Schools. Agree that this is nonsense, but I have to say it’s a relief to see Vasile moved away from a position with student contact.

  3. While all appears to be well with the school board and downtown office administrators, the same cannot be said for my child. She is losing everything (skills, abilities) I advocated for her since she entered (regretfully) the HCS system 13 years ago.

    I hope no more children have to suffer the consequences my child has had to endure the last two weeks in a Psychiatric Hospital due to the ineptitude of this school system that places priority of competitive administrative salaries over FAPE.

    I’d like to know which administrator can explain why my child is not worthy of receiving an education that includes:

    appropriate placement (staying in an Autism program rather than being placed in a Multi-handicapped program);

    trained staff (teachers/aides who are equipped to work with students on the spectrum and are familiar with elementary & middle school autism programs) on day one of the school year;

    providing the student with a means of communication within the classroom/school on day one of the school year. Lack of such communication has resulted in deteriorating behavior. Behavior that impedes education.

    Which administrator empowers the special needs child with an appropriate education? Is the goal of the current administration to see how many students with autism they can rid from the system while destroying the lives of families in the process?

    1. That wouldn’t surprise me at all as the goal.

      As far as which administrator is empowering SPED, the chain of command goes: Board, Wardynski, Cooper (Dep. Sup.), Sledge, and then it will be sub-divided between: Director Managed Instruction Secondary Schools, Director Performance and Empowerment Schools, and Director Managed Instruction Primary Schools.

      In other words, there are at least 3 and likely 4 levels between SPED and the Superintendent. 5 if you count the CSFO for financial matters. 6 if you count the “Director of Transition” who serves as the primary gatekeeper for the superintendent. If you want a meeting with Wardynski, you typically have to go through King.

      Before there was nothing separating SPED from the Superintendent.

      If access to the Superintendent is the same as influence, SPED is at the bottom of the food chain now.

  4. Parents….They want you to give up and leave (with regard to your Childs services) again no other local system has these issues. That’s the reason for doubling up on bus routes (to make parents give up and drive their kids to school) if they don’t like the routes provided. Which is what many have done. Let’s wake up and organize our efforts!!! The kids are all suffering in the end.

    1. I’m fairly convinced that “they” would also be quite happy for the vast majority of the teachers in the system to quit or retire this year. We are working to organize. If you have suggestions, I’ll be happy to hear them.

      Thanks, as always, for reading!

  5. THE CURE for Broad Virus:



    Sharing information.

    Vote your school board out of office.

    Vote your mayor out of office if s/he is complicit.

    Boycott or opt out of tests.

    Go national.

    Follow the money.

    Question the data – especially if it’s produced by someone affiliated with the Broad or Gates Foundations or their favored consultants (McKinsey, Strategies 360, NCTQ, or their own strategically placed Broad Residents).

    Alert the media again and again (they will ignore you at first).

    Protest, stage rallies, circulate petitions.

    Connect and daylight the dots.

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