Assessing Wardynski’s First Six Months


Wow, it really is nice not to have to think about Huntsville City Schools on an hourly basis. It’s been a nice vacation.

But on Tuesday, the Huntsville Times reported that Thomas R. Skulina, and independent arbitrator who served as the hearing officer at Clark Sharp’s employment hearing, said that Dr. Wardynski’s hiring decisions since July directly impacted his decision in favor of Mr. Sharp retaining his position as a mechanic with Huntsville City Schools.

This is the third of nine hearings so far that the system has lost and that RIFed employees have won. Of the nine hearing that have occurred, three of the employees who lost, represented themselves. Of the six who had representation, the system has lost half.

There are 27 decisions still pending.

According to the Huntsville Times, Skulina criticized Dr. Wardynski hiring practices and expenditures on “employee recruitment.”

It would seem that others are taking notice of the strange approach to hiring that Dr. Wardynski has implemented immediately following one of the deepest reduction in force in the past ten years.

Skulina wrote:

These invoice charges [of $670,000] were cited (in Sharp’s appeal) to underscore the point that enough adjustment in the work force had been made and did not necessitate the termination of this [Sharp] employee, who conceivable (sic) saves money for necessary services.

By my count, Skulina significantly underestimated the Wardynski spending spree.

Some of the invoices that Skulina referenced included the Teach for America Contract (which was cited incorrectly as being up to $550,000. The actual total for the contract over the next five years is $1.9 million), Dr. Cooper’s salary which was $7,054.74 above the maximum posted salary, hiring Aaron King for the newly created position of “Director of Transition” at a salary of $59,211 a year.

Skulina also reference Wardynski’s bonus salary, and the purchase of new computers for students. (He didn’t mention the purchase of new computers for the central office.)

In other words, despite the superintendent’s constant claim that he’s not spending money on the central office, even independent arbitrators are noticing that he’s spending more on himself than on staff or students.

Hopefully other arbitrators for the other 27 pending hearing will see the same thing.

Wardynski’s approach has been to spend money without regard of the long term impact. He seems completely unconcerned about cuts in services, larger class sizes, closing schools, hiring his friends, or repaying the Broad Foundation for his “training.”

Sadly the board of education is enabling all of these decisions as well.

We’ve already, in five months, matched the legal spending the system paid in the previous nine months before hiring Wardynski. With only nine of 27 cases decided, the legal expenditures for this system will easily clear $1 million this year.

So, we can spend money on lawyers. We can spend money on central office staff. We can spend money on computers. But spending on teachers, instructional assistants, and therapists isn’t allowed.

The Huntsville Times has asked recently for people to share their opinions about the new superintendent’s performance after six months on the job. I assume that if you’re a lawyer, in favor of closing schools, nepotism, or the head of a multi-million dollar foundation then you would have to say that Wardynski is the best thing that has ever happened to Huntsville City Schools.

If, on the other hand, you’re a parent struggling to get an appropriate education for your child, I’d have to say that the assessment of his first six months is quite dire.

Dr. Wardynski and the board are destroying Huntsville City Schools for a generation of students. Thankfully others are starting to notice.

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


  1. I am at a loss. My son desperately wants to be a part of New Century Technology. He is learning the things that are imperative to the career he wants when he graduates. He has asked me to stay with the school when it moves to Lee. The problem is, that there will be no New Century anymore. Instead of his college applications listing the 7th best school in Alabama, it would instead show on of the worst schools in the state. He’s young and he wants to stay with his teachers and friends, but I don’t know if I can let him. That’s not even to mention the fact that I would never be able to attend PTA meetings or just about any other function at the school, because we live in Southwest Huntsville and I work in Madison. Dr. Wardynski has completely ignored our pleas to leave well-enough alone. Why he is intent on destroying the best school in the system is beyond me, but I want you to know that I appreciate your efforts on the students’ behalf.

    1. I simply don’t know, Rasberryrum. I suspect that your post on the racial makeup of the schools has something to do with it. I also suspect that someone on the board is pushing for it. When the POS demographic report was released in June (God has it been that long), it was “revealed” that in 10 years the new Lee would be operating at one-third of it’s capacity.

      It’s kind of difficult to justify spending $41 (and counting) million on a new High School that will operate at one-third capacity.

      Otherwise, I really have no idea of their motivations in the New Century move.

      I’m really sorry for your son, and I don’t envy your decision. Wouldn’t it be nice if our school system worked with parents rather than against them?

  2. Following up on my previous comment… Do you think they are doing that to even out race at Lee? Where Columbia and Lee have similar student body size, the ratio of black students to white students is higher at Lee. That’s just me wondering where the logic is in uprooting this school and basically obliterating it.
    Lee High School- 2010- 768 Students- 73% black/ 22% white
    Columbia High- 2010- 686 students (less than Lee, but they need to “ease overcrowding) – 60% black/ 30% white/ 10% other
    New Century 2010 306 Students- 44% black/ 11% hispanic (that’s good)/ 42% white

    New Century is probably one of the most racially even schools in the district, and now they are going to destroy. It makes me sick.

  3. I was quite pleased to open the Sunday paper this morning and to see the headlines. The first thing I thought, “If they didn’t interview Winn for this article, then I have lost what little faith I have left in this paper.” However, they did mention you in the article and the fact that others are discontent. So, I was quite pleased. I thought to myself, “Maybe, just MAYBE, the Times will start to sit up and take a little more notice for the students, the parents, and the teachers of the Huntsville City School system.”
    I know of two parents that are in a similar situation as yours. They want to take their sons out of HCS and home school them or move out of the district. I have given them links to your website and encouraged them to take a stand, to fight, to go to the board meetings, and to ask the hard questions to the board and the superintendent. I don’t think we should roll over and give up our rights as a community for someone who just waltzed into town and acts like he owns the place. I wish someone would tell him to wake up, because he’s not in the Army anymore. His first priority should have been, “Know thy community.” Secondly, it would be nice if he knew just a little bit of something about education in general. Ten months on training at The Broad Academy? Are you kidding me? If I spend ten months in the Army does that make me a five star general?
    As for the Times, I hope they start to print more articles like today. For starters, they could wake up the editorial department out of their biased coma!

    1. I wish they could have found someone else willing to speak out against the decisions being made (like AEA for example), but I was pleased that they ran a balanced assessment.

      Thanks for reading!

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