Eli Broad’s Return On Investment

10-20 Board

When you’re considering an investment, one of the first points to consider is, what will this investment return? If the ROI is small, you look for other places to spend money. If it’s significant, you’re much more likely to spend money on it. Eli Broad of the Broad (rhymes with “road”) Foundation has made an investment in Dr. Casey Wardynski through the Broad Academy. After five months as superintendent of Huntsville City Schools, how is Wardynski performing for his benefactor?

Well, we’ve already discussed at length Wardynski’s willingness to spend our money on himself. His salary ($175,000), his bonus ($10,000), his aides have been well documented here and in the Huntsville Times.

We’ve discussed his willingness to spend money on his friends from Aurora in the person of our CSFO at a salary that is competitive in at least two states of $130,000.

We’ve discussed the fact that we’re paying a deputy superintendent a salary of $141,600 (or $7,000 more than the maximum posted salary) because she, like Dr. Wardynski, wouldn’t have come for less than that.

We’ve seen how our system now has two standards for their salary policies: One for senior administration and another one for their friends.

We’ve seen how quickly and easily the board decided to reduce our new teacher’s salaries to the state minimum and to freeze step raises for all our teachers.

We’ve seen how the Special Education budget is responsible for 61% of the total budget cuts for the system in FY2012.

But perhaps this isn’t enough to convince the public that Dr. Wardynski’s priorities do not include educating students or supporting teachers, specialist, therapists, aides and principles–you know those people in our system who actually work with children.

Perhaps we still need to look to see what else Dr. Wardynski have gotten the rubber-stamp board to approve over the past few weeks.

On September 15th, the board heard a presentation on PROACT Search, a national search firm which the Board has contracted with to do six to ten principal searches at a cost of $11,000 a search. PROACT Search’s CEO is Gary R. Solomon. Solomon, in addition to being the CEO for PROACT Search is also the president of Synesi Associates. Both of these firms make active use of the SUPES Academy, which isn’t surprising as Solomon is also a member of the SUPES Academy Advisory Board.

When Wardynski started in July, one of his first responsibilities was to establish a search committee to fill the eight  principal positions that were vacant at the time. This committee was made up of current principals, teachers and community members. So far as I am aware, none of these people were paid for their work. They completed their work in record time, and their selections are among our more celebrated principals.

So why do we need to pay an outside firm to do the work that our board and central office are already being paid to do?

On October 20th, Wardynski recommended and the board approved spending $300,000 over the next two years to offer professional development to approximately 20 principals, especial the new principals that PROACT Search finds at a cost of $11,000 per principal. So Solomon is involved in both the finding of principals and the training of principals.

This is an exorbitant cost to spend on professional development activities. And again, why are we paying an outside firm to do the work that our board and central office are already being paid to do?

Maybe this will help explain.

If you’re wondering how Dr. Wardynski heard about PROACT Search, or the SUPES Academy, all you need to do is take a look at the SUPES Academy Advisory Board. The chair of the board, Timothy G. Quinn, has direct ties to the Broad Foundation. His description says:

Tim 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.

Dr. Wardynski met six times over a ten month period attending the Broad Superintendents Academy in 2010. This is a weekend training program funded by the Broad Foundation to recruit and train persons without an educational background in how to be superintendents. It would seem that at least part of that training time is spent teaching these future superintendents how to direct public funds to private search firms and professional development organizations all of whom have direct ties to The Broad Foundation.

The only organization that Dr. Wardynski has recommended to the board, that the board hasn’t yet been asked to approve is the Teach for America contract to hire “teachers” who have not been trained as teachers. During the Teach for America presentation, Dr. Robinson and Mr. Birney were both often seen nodding in approval. That contract requires that Huntsville City Schools pay Teach for America $550,000 to recruit and “train” up to 110 new teachers.

Teach for America, I’m sure will come as not surprise, is also one of The Broad Foundation’s “Current Investments.”

So let’s recap:

  • Wardynski has recommended, and the board has approved hiring PROACT Search (with direct ties to The Broad Foundation) for $110,000 to hire approximately 10 new principals.
  • He has recommended, and the board has approved hiring SUPES Academy to provide professional development to new Principals for $300,000 for two years.
  • He has recommended, and the board will likely approve the hiring of 110 Teach for America (supported by The Broad Foundation) for $550,000 a year.

In five months, Dr. Wardynski recommended spending just shy of one million dollars on programs supported by The Broad Foundation.

That’s not bad for a five month tenure, is it? While it’s not clear how much The Broad Foundation has spent “training” Dr. Wardynski, if the “training” for Teach for America is any indication, it’s likely in the $20,000 range. In exchange for this investment, Dr. Wardynski has already returned $410,000 in five months. In all likelihood at some point in November the rubber stamp board will approve spending $550,000 for Teach for America to hire 110 teachers who haven’t been trained to teach.

If you’d like to read more about The Broad Foundation’s “commitment” to education, take a look at “How to Tell if your School District is Infected by the Broad Virus.” You might also consider following, “The Broad Report.”

$960,000 for five months work. Not bad. Not bad at all. I wish the ROI for Huntsville’s kids were as high.

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


  1. In five months, Dr. Wardynski recommended spending just shy of one million dollars on programs supported by The Broad Foundation.

    But, but, that is what he hired to do.

    Mission Accomplished.

  2. Good going Russ. I haven’t met you yet. But way to go connecting these dots.

    This is shocking. This is such a malfeasance I can’t imagine that this is being allowed. Let’s turn up the heat, keep the spotlight on the superintendent.

    1. Thanks. It wasn’t a difficult connection to make once I took a look. Just time.

      Thanks for reading, and feel free to say hi anytime! 🙂

  3. Andrew Fandre said-This is shocking. This is such a malfeasance I can’t imagine that this is being allowed.

    It’s being allowed because those who know about it are afraid to speak up for fear of retribution and because the local media is not connecting the dots. Heck they don’t have to connect the dots. Russ has already done it for them. All they have to do is report the facts.

  4. Maybe now some of the other parents will start listening to what Russ has been trying to say all along. How to tell if your school system has been infected? The superintendent singlehandedly decides to strip the name of a high school that it has held for more than 50 years without asking, discussing, or informing the principal, PTA, or students of the school in question first. No, he made the annoucement at another high school’s PTA meeting, blindsiding poor Lee High School. Even taking the name off of the building in the middle of the night. What a coward. Wake up Huntsville!! I know some of you are starting to. I see the facebook page and the responses to the news media, but it will take more than that. Casey really doesn’t care or listen to us “little” folks, you know the parents of the kids he is supposed to be taking care of. We need to write our board members and remind them they work for us. Same with Casey. We gave him a job and can take it away too. I am willing to bet that the buyout of his contract would save us more money than he is costing us now.

  5. Check out page 13 of the August checkbook register for the HCS. Wardynski was reimbursed $5,596.40 for out-of-state travel. Wasn’t he out for more Broad training in July? Btw, the September 2011 register isn’t up yet. So much for transparency.

    1. Why yes, I think that he did attend a Broad training in July. I’ll need to add that to the total, I suppose. Good catch as always!

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