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Training Principals and Incentivizing the Superintendent

HCSBoard Seal

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?

Anyone?

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.

 

 

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

19 Comments

  1. *Sigh*
    “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 actually the taxpayers lawyer since we are the ones who pay him, and the board actually works for us, since we are the ones who elect them, but don’t let those facts get in the way of doing right by the students and taxpayers. Snark. In any event, Mr. Brooks is WRONG about the breach of contract if THIS is what the contract says;

    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.

    Keys words IF APPROVED BY THE BOARD IN IT’S SOLD, I mean SOLE DISCRETION.

    This is the Board’s first mistake;
    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. Key words TO BE NAMED LATER. What kind of mess is that?

    “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.” Sounds like Robinson and McCaulley met for coffee prior to the meeting. 🙂

    Thanks for the report Geek.

    1. McCaulley looked surprised at the “second.” What I think actually happened is that Robinson and Wardynski were the ones who met for coffee. But who knows.

      Yeah, Brooks did a great job of offering political cover last night. (And yeah, they all work for us.)

      When the board was discussing a conference they attended, they all picked up on the need “to treat the public/parents less like customers and more like partners.” The implication was, “parents need to take responsibility and be involved in their kid’s education.”

      Well, so long as they don’t ask too many difficult questions about the decisions that are being made without public input that is.

  2. This whole SUPES academy thing is just confounding to me. We spend $300K to prepare our principals to become SUPERINTENDENTS, just as the program’s name implies. The taxpayers of this district pay to train our administrators to leave this district. Helloooo? Check me if I’m wrong, but there’s only one superintendent position within our local system. And before people rush to insist that this training makes the principals better at their current jobs, note that this latest gimmick’s marketing material specifically references its record for creating superintendents.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for professional development. I do my fair share, but it’s paid for out of my own pocket. I simply can’t see taking funds that ought to be used to educate the STUDENTS in this school district and dedicating them to making our principals more competitive applicants for other jobs. But only if they WANT the education. Is the $300K a flat fee, regardless of how many administrators are trained?

    And J.R. Brooks? Just how much does his invaluable counsel cost the system? Seems like he absolutely cannot get it right — poor advice from that one every time someone pulls his chain.

    1. The SUPES Academy has direct ties to the Broad Academy that “trains” superintendents. Their website says that their Advisory Board Chair, Dr. Timothy Quinn, “was engaged by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation to partner on the creation of The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems and the Broad Superintendents Academy.”

      http://www.supesacademy.org/advisory-board/

      In other words, the system is using extremely limited funding to “train” people to become Wardynski.

      No the $300k isn’t unlimited. I believe that it will cover about 10-12 trainees per year. So a total of about 24 newly “trained” administrators for $300,000.

      While Mr. King assured Mrs. McCaulley last night that current principals who do not participate in the training will not be in trouble, if I were a principal who wished to keep my job, I would absolutely apply for this “training.”

      Bottom line is that this another attempt by Dr. Wardynski to place our school’s leadership into the hands of people who do not have an education background.

      1. Well, I don’t see this being an attempt to “place our school’s leadership into the hands of people who do not have an education background,” at least not yet. After all, the people who would purportedly be educated through this program come from the education field — current principals, right?

        But I do have to ask, “what’s in it for us?” I just fail to see the value in grooming our principals to be superintendents elsewhere.

        Perhaps that’s when the non-educators will enter the picture — when they are hired to replace “up and out” principals who move on to other systems, thanks to their SUPES education. Then, we can pay to train THOSE principals with some other high-dollar contracted program, on the theory that they’ll need to be brought up to speed in order to lead their schools.

        Even if these principals bring their high-priced training to bear in their present positions, any expected benefit will likely be lost on their demoralized, underfunded, and over-extended classroom teachers.

        At some point we’re going to have to publicly dispense with the pretense that HCS is focused on student education, and acknowledge that it’s just simply operating to further the pecuniary and professional interests of the growing legions of administrators that clutter the central office.

        Oh, and whole whoop-de-doo of distributing Macbooks to 7th graders? Seems like a feel-good diversion that is intended to overshadow the utter failures that are being perpetrated by our board.

        1. The program is for both current principals and new ones brought in by the SUPES academy. Part of the program, although not included in the $300k, it’s an additional $60k that was approved a month ago, is a recruitment program to bring non-educators into principal positions in a school system.

          While current principals are expected to apply for the SUPES academy, they are not the target audience. The new, inexperienced, principals that PROACT (a part of SUPES) recruits are the target audience for the SUPES academy. We’re paying them $60k to recruit. We pay them $300k to train.

          I’ve long sense given up the pretense that the leadership of HCS is focused on students.

          Oh, and the HT was wrong. The students didn’t get MacBooks. They got Netbooks running Windows last night. But your point is well-taken.

  3. THIS;
    Bottom line is that this another attempt by Dr. Wardynski to place our school’s leadership into the hands of people who do not have an education background.

    So now that we know what are we going to do about it? What can we do about it? Our School Board Members don’t listen to us. The media ignores everything. AEA is scared s#itless. Teachers and Administrators are scared s#itless.

    Shermans” March to the Sea is complete.
    http://redeyesfrontpage.blogspot.com/2011/08/huntsville-city-schools-broad-civil.html

    Mission Accomplished

  4. yes, because what we need are more trained administrators. maybe they’ll get hired on as assistants as well.

    my wife sent a strongly worded letter to dr. robinson (our district rep) suggesting she NOT push for this whole bonus thing right now. she was ignored – never got any response and obviously dr. robinson was just itching to give the new superintendent the money. do we have 10K just lying around? or for that matter, $300K? if so, how about using that to get more computers in the classroom? how about if his incentive to meet these goals was to keep his damn job?!

    apparently our school board does NOT listen to us… they want us to just keep moving along and let them do all the heavy thinking. imagine what would happen if we put an honest-to-god former teacher in the post of superintendent.

    sorry for the digression…

    1. The best message to send Dr. Robinson and the other board members is to VOTE THEM OUT!!!

      At the last board meeting I believe DR. W said that 90% of the support staff had no education background. Why then are they not helping the support staff that has direct contact with students and work their tails off. I know many support staff that would LOVE more training and care deeply about the students they work with. They want to get better every day, help them.

  5. I really wish I could adopt the “I don’t have students in the system” attitude and ignore what’s happening with the HCS system….but when I think about future generations I just can’t.

    What’s that saying about first they ignore you, then they laugh at you etc.?

  6. Thanks for covering this meeting and your informative post. I won’t go into how ridiculous the SUPES program and the bonus for simply DOING HIS JOB are; I think others have expressed my views. While I think giving out laptops is a nice idea in theory, is that really a good move when the system is so broke that there are no teacher raises? Also, why Whitesburg? Just generalizing but I’d imagine that most kids at that school already have computers in the home, and parents who can certainly afford to buy the kids a computer. Why not unveil the laptop giving away at a school where the poverty level is high and the students really NEED the computers?

    I also take issue with the fact that Wardynski has apparently met with the PTA at Whitesburg to talk about transitioning their school to P-8. My kids go to Chapman, and I learned our middle and elementary schools are being merged by reading it on the front page of the HSV Times. I am, along with most elementary parents there, extremely unhappy about this move. Chapman Elem. is an exemplary school with good leadership, high test scores, and great PTA involvement. Chapman Middle is, well, not…they’re the ones where the principal was fired then sued to be reinstated. Bad test scores, little parental involvement, high disciplinary referrals–it’s an unsafe school. There’s a reason they have a cop there, and a metal gate between the two sides of the building. The majority of Chapman Elem students don’t go on to the middle, the parents either move, get kids into one of the magnets, or pull kids out to home school or send to private school. (there are two other elementary schools that are “feeders” for Chapman Middle, in case anyone was wondering how it’s still open). So now I have to pull my kids, for their safety, and if they don’t get into a magnet, figure out how to send to a private school. I’m furious that parents were given no input or discussion on this, it just happened and is now a done deal, and Wardynski doesn’t even have the courtesy to come speak to *OUR* PTA–but living in NE, it’s about what I’ve come to expect.

    1. I think he was saying that he had met with the PTA at Whitesburg. He hasn’t met with the PTA at Mt. Gap either. (Let me amend that. He hasn’t met with the entire PTA at Mt. Gap yet. He has met with the PTA leadership at Mt. Gap He has not met with parents.) I don’t know if he’s met with parents at Whitesburg yet, but he implied he had.

      Either way, the consolidation at Whitesburg is moving forward as a result of the retirement of the Elementary principal there.

      I don’t know yet if the consolidation is a good or bad thing. I’ve heard no justification for it. I am not happy about the way the decision has been made and is being discussed as if it is fait accompli.

      Parents should be allowed to be involved before decisions like closing schools are finalized.

      The board and the superintendent claim they want parents involved. If that’s so, excluding parents from decisions like this is not the way to accomplish that.

  7. You said-The board and the superintendent claim they want parents involved. If that’s so, excluding parents from decisions like this is not the way to accomplish that.

    Uh, it’s called blowing smoke and using parental involvement or the lack thereof as a scapegoat.

    Asipe Mom said-, why Whitesburg? Just generalizing but I’d imagine that most kids at that school already have computers in the home, and parents who can certainly afford to buy the kids a computer. Why not unveil the laptop giving away at a school where the poverty level is high and the students really NEED the computers?

    What part of they don’t care about students where the poverty level is high and the students really NEED the notebooks (thanks Bill) don’t you understand? They only care about the fortunate few. They’ve always only cared about the fortunate few. It’s what they believe and who they are.

    This should be our motto and we need to organize and Occupy the School Board.

    “First they ignore you.
    Then they laugh at you.
    Then they fight you.
    Then you win.”

  8. This is an amazing story.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-20124225/apps-for-autism-communicating-on-the-ipad/?tag=contentMain;cbsCarousel

    For severely autistic people, communication is often impossible, leaving them unable to convey what they want or need. But as Lesley Stahl reports, touch-screen apps designed for tablet computers like the iPad are now giving autistic people new ways to express themselves, some for the first time. Teachers and parents are hailing the technology as a breakthrough, one that can reveal the true depth of knowledge and emotion trapped behind a wall of silence.

    Maybe Dr. Wardynski would be interested…

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