“Strong Leaders” Need Leadership Not Bonuses


I had planned to write about the cost of the Pinnacle Schools contract again by pointing out that while we were paying The Pinnacle Schools $778,000 for four months of work to do the job of the Seldon Center, The Seldon Center was still open and operating at an estimated cost of $175,166. In other words, The Pinnacle Schools costs the district three and a half times as much to operate as the Seldon Center did.

But then I read the news today, oh boy. (By the way, this article shows why we need a paper in this town. If I had asked McCaulley or Blair about these decisions, all I would have received was silence.)

It seems that in addition to their salaries, the Superintendent is planning to give 19 principals a total of $92,650 in bonuses this year. 14 of them will be receiving this bonus for moving to a new school in the district.

Two of them will be receiving about $8,000 as a signing bonus as they’ve never worked in the district before.

Three of them, including Mr. Aaron King who does not currently hold administration certification, will receive $15,100 as an incentive on top of the incentive of being promoted to principal in the first place.

There are three principals on the list whose salary and incentive pay wasn’t provided by the district.

Dr. Wardynski, taking the same approach that he takes with parents when he’s asked about his decisions, ignored requests for comments about this. Our “strong leader” demonstrates his leadership by sticking his head in the sand until the questions stop.

McCaulley and Blair did offer comments, although you have to wonder how they manage to offer such inane responses without their heads exploding. McCaulley offers the defense that some of these schools are “challenging.” I suppose that’s why Mr. King needs an extra $4,900 to go to Huntsville Middle School? I suppose that’s why Mr. Landers needs an extra $5,600 to go to Hampton Cove Elementary?

Mr. Blair, at least, is politically savvy enough to recognize and acknowledge that teachers are getting, again, the shaft. His response: “It’s one of those things where you want to do it all at once, but you can’t.”

I suppose that’s justification for always starting at the top of the food chain rather than with the neediest.

I suppose that’s justification for putting the district’s resources as far away from the students as possible.

Our Instructional Assistants make slightly more than the average bonus listed here. Every one of them could make more, with benefits, by working at McDonalds.

Our new teachers make $36,144 (unless they’re working for Teach for America, then they’ll cost the system an extra $10,000 over the life of their two year contract.)

I wonder how often Dr. Wardynski and his cadre of “strong leaders” have been thrown up on in the past year by a student they’re comforting?

I wonder how often Dr. Wardynski and his cadre of “strong leaders” have taught a student to read in the past year?

I wonder how often Dr. Wardynski and his cadre of “strong leaders” have helped a student learn to accept other students who are different?

Instructional assistants did this every single day.

Our teachers did this work every single day. And they still found time to teach to an ever changing standard. And they still found time to love our students.

Our district is putting resources and value in the wrong areas. Again.

But the “feed stock” and their needs don’t matter.

And by connection, neither do our students. These bonuses alone could pay for three more teachers in the coming year. They could pay for ten more instructional assistants. No, our students don’t matter. So much for putting students first.

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


  1. I have to wonder how Principals of low performing schools that were not transferred must feel. I know one principal of a 98% free/reduced school that has maintained the “no child left behind” standard who is not being transferred and gets no incentive.

  2. The fact that three teachers could have been hired for the cost if these bonuses is the biggest issue I have here. Principals are not the ones earning the high education marks. Principals are not the driving force behind kids wanting to be in the classroom each day. It’s teachers and teaching assistants.

    1. but under wardynski the principle gets all the credit for the teacher’s work. if scores improve, it was the principle’s “strong leadership” that caused students’ scores to rise, not excellence in the classroom.

  3. Lest we forget… each student in the district will receive either a laptop or ipad…..

    Could it be HCS leadership believes this technology will save the district dollars by replacing its quality teachers and instructional assistants…thereby justifying Principal bonuses?

    Will the ipad or Principal assist the Pre-K through Early Elementary teachers in teaching students self-help, socialization, communication, and behavior modification?

    1. Have I missed any mention of support hires to assist in keeping all these news pieces of miracle machinery up and running? Or are the teachers just expected to take on that job also?

  4. I thought the school district was broke? Where is all of this money coming from?

    1. Out of the classroom. Particularly Special Education which is $7 million less than last year and $7 million below budget.

      1. And that”s ok? If ARM had raided the special Ed budget in order to give her cronies araises……..ther would have. Even he’ll to pay.

  5. Should read if ARM had raided the special education to give her cronies pay raises and outsource the alternaive school there would be hell to pay and rightly do.

  6. Third try-Should read if ARM had raided the special education to give her cronies pay raises and outsource the alternaive school there would be hell to pay and rightly so.

    When are the tax payers going to say it’s not okay?

  7. They aren’t going to notice. W is following the perfect play book. He doesn’t answer questions. Decisions are made in secret and presented to the board for approval. He’s removed the board from the equation. The tax payers have no say in the matter anymore.

    At best we can get two new board members this year. The best funded candidates will be the ones backed by W and Broad. If they take both seats, then it’s over for two more years.

    If they take only one, and someone comes in and tries to block W, first off they are the minority, the rest of the board will still be firmly in W’s back pocket. If W can’t make the one out to be a crackpot then you can be sure W will work to either co-opt the rouge member or get dirt on him/her.

    Even if two members get replaced by people willing to reign in W, you can bet your bottom dollar they will be made to feel on the outside until W can co-opt or neutralize.

    I don’t believe we have any hope for change from the board. Our best hope is for the local media to get fired up and dig, or for Russ to keep up the fight. One day Russ or another Reporter/blogger will find that smoking gun. Or an upset parent will file a class action lawsuit against the school system for discrimination.

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