So thanks to the hard work of our teachers, administrators, and many in our central office in writing a grant proposal, Huntsville City Schools passed out a ton of net books to seventh graders at Whitesburg Middle School tonight.
They were, needlessly to say, quite pleased to receive these new tools to further their education.
For the record, I believe that Dr. Wardynski’s focus on updating and implementing technology in education is an excellent idea, and I appreciate his placing an emphasis on getting this technology into the hands of our kids. They will need it in order to be competitive in the 21st century.
Yes, I am officially praising an action by our superintendent.
Hopefully our teachers will also be receiving new computers soon. (I’m sure many of them would be satisfied by simply receiving ink for their printers and paper to print on, but sure a new computer would be nice.)
Dr. Wardynski did say that Principals would be receiving new computers and iPad 2s soon. In case you were wondering, those iPad 2s will be used to aide in evaluating our teachers. (Who might or might not be receiving new computers as well.) I wonder if this new evaluation will also include a video recording of the teacher teaching which could instantly be sent to Dr. Wardynski for his approval as well? I suppose we’ll see.
I’m sure that our principals will be trained on how to conduct these new teacher evaluations at the SUPES Academy professional development program that was approved tonight. This new professional development program, which has been spearheaded by Mr. Aaron King, Director of Transition, and who has already been tagged as a future principal by Dr. Wardynski (once his year as Transition director is up, I suppose), will only cost the system $300,000 over the next two years.
That’s a completely reasonable amount for a professional development program, don’t you think?
Can someone please explain why a person who is not a principal is in charge of selecting and implementing a $300,000 professional development program for principals?
Never mind. I’ll just add it to the list of imponderable questions raised by this board and Superintendent.
Next up, the board decided on how much of a bonus Dr. Wardynski should be paid if he meets his goals this year. Drum roll please: Dr. Wardynski will receive “up to $10,000” in May should the board decide that he has met the goals they have established for him.
While this is significantly less than what Dr. Robinson recommended a week ago, she was the first to second the motion from the board President Laurie McCaulley. She then quickly pointed out that many in the press had gotten the incentive pay idea wrong in the previous week. She wanted everyone to know that Dr. Wardynski wasn’t receiving this money right now, but that if he achieved his five goals in a sufficient manner that this bonus would be awarded in May.
Mr. Brooks, the board’s lawyer, quickly jumped in the discussion to point out that the incentive pay was actually a part of Dr. Wardynski’s contract. He went on to claim that if the board didn’t approve the incentive pay for Dr. Wardynski that they would be in breach of contract. It’s always nice when someone volunteers to provide political cover for a controversial decision.
Mr. Brooks is of course correct. Well sorta, anyway. During the negotiations of Dr. Wardynski’s contract, the board, knowing that Dr. Wardynski had 11 months experience in education, offered Dr. Wardynski a contract that was $55,000 above the minimum salary along with an incentive package to be named later.
The Incentive Pay section, reads as follows:
Incentive Pay. If approved by the Board, in its sole discretion, the Superintendent may earn incentive pay based on successful achievement of goals. By September 1, 2011 the Board and the Superintendent shall agree on goals for school year 2011-2012. The Superintendent’s goals for school years after the 2011-12 shall be established by the Board by July 31 of each year in response to proposed goals submitted by the Superintendent no later than May 31. In addition to assessment of successful attainment of agreed goals, the Board will consider the Superintendent’s evaluation pursuant to Section 10 of the Contract. The determination of whether the goals have been met and the amount, if any, of any incentive pay to be awarded as a consequence thereof shall be solely vested in the discretion of the board.
So, yes, the contract that was negotiated in private and unanimously approved by the board on June 16th includes a requirement to establish goals for the superintendent by September 1, 2011. (The goals were not completed and approved until October 11th. Perhaps Dr. Wardynski will have Mr. Brooks sue for breach of contract?) Additionally the contract states that, “The determination of whether the goals have been met and the amount, if any, of any incentive pay to be awarded as a consequence thereof shall be solely vested in the discretion of the board.”
So it would seem that the board is required to establish goals for the superintendent, but that they are not required to actually establish an amount to be tied to those goals as an incentive.
And yet, they have now gone ahead and done just that.
Dr. Wardynski could earn an additional $10,000 as a bonus in May should the board decide to award it to him. Anyone want to place a wager on the likelihood that he will indeed earn that amount?
For the record, should Dr. Wardynski unfreeze the salaries in the system by reinstating the STEP raises for our teachers and staff before the May 31st deadline, and should he manage to raise the state minimum salaries of our new teachers to a point where they are at least competitive with our neighboring systems, I will be the first to insist that he be considered for an incentive bonus.
But until that occurs, the board should use their discretion to say to Dr. Wardynski that it simply isn’t fair for the Superintendent to receive a bonus while our teachers’ salaries are frozen.