Wardynski Closing Every Middle School in the District

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At a parent’s meeting tonight to discuss the changes that will soon take place in the Johnson High School feeder patterns, Dr. Wardynski shared with about 30 parents at Rolling Hills Elementary that he is planning to close every middle school in the district. The man who claimed that he wouldn’t be closing schools, sure is doing a lot of it. He intends to either merge the middle schools with the elementary schools creating a Pre-K — 8th, and 9th — 12th model, or, as he is planning to do with Davis Hills Middle (and soon after Ed White Middle) he is developing a Pre-K/K — 6th grade elementary school and a 7th — 12th grade high school.

As the Director of Operations Jeffery Wilson explained tonight, “Because the idea is that if we build a new Johnson that opens in 2016 it’s the 4th and 5th grade parents and students who will be very greatly affected by that. There kids would go through their 7 to 12 experience at the new Johnson.”

Yes, the Director of Operations, under the direction of Dr. Wardynski and not the Directors of Curriculum and Instruction, is the person driving the decisions in this district. Once again decisions that should be made with the best interests of the education of the student are instead being made with the best interests of the director of operations and of course the almighty developers in mind.

This pattern will then be replicated across the district effectively closing eight schools across the district. This list of schools includes:

  • Challenger Middle
  • Davis Hills Middle
  • Ed White Middle
  • Hampton Cove Middle
  • Huntsville Middle (I suppose he has a new school in mind for his boy Aaron King to run along with the help of two assistant principals, of course.)
  • Providence Middle (This one is already in the works.)
  • Westlawn Middle (Funny, I thought we were just celebrating how wonderful they were doing on their own.)
  • Williams Middle

This list doesn’t include the new Pre-K — 8th schools that were “transformed” this year at Mt. Gap, The Chapman Schools, and Whitesburg.

Remember when Wardynski claimed back in September 2011 that “school closings are not really a panacea,” and that “we want to have exhausted every other hope we have” before closing schools? Remember when he proclaimed that the demographer’s report for which we paid $75,000 had “fallen by the wayside?

Remember when the entire city got up in arms at the thought of closing nine schools in the district? Now Dr. Wardynski is planning to close twice that number with the schools that he has already closed, slated to close, relocated, or merged.

I wonder what schools will be on the chopping block next?

In fact, can anyone share with me any promise that Dr. Wardynski has ever made to parents that has actually been fulfilled? Even a basic promise such as “we’ll have laptops ready to substitute should one break” still hasn’t been met with regularity.

We have a superintendent, a board of education and a central office who steadfastly refuse to ask “will this help students learn?” Maybe the central office can be excused out of fear of what Wardynski will do to them if they should ask a question. I’ve been repeatedly told that he is quite happy to cuss his staff out when necessary. But surely at least one member of the board of education can find the intestinal fortitude to follow a simple suggestion that I offered for the first time nearly two years ago, PUT STUDENTS FIRST!

And the Board and Superintendent respond with silence.

I guess that closing schools is indeed a panacea after all.

Almost makes you miss Dr. Richardson, doesn’t it?

Goodbye Dr. Richardson

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

6 Comments

  1. True problem-solving is not a skill-set employed by this bunch. The only solution is to destroy a section of town by closing all of the schools in that area. That will fix it or so they think. Wait until there is not enough room and kids have to be transferred to other schools. Then it will be a problem and a huge money problem.

  2. What we have here is an out-of-control Board. Closing schools, building new schools, allowing parents to transfer their kids to any other school of their choice …just because. Maybe the Board is stuck on that motto “Build it and they will come.” Well, maybe not. Let me tell you about a school my kids attended in northern NJ (Glen Rock) not that long ago. It’s called Central School (elementary school). Go ahead, google it. The school was old. Very old. There was no air conditioning and the school did not have a cafeteria. They ate lunch in their classroom (probably still do). Funny thing though…..there was a waiting list of teachers wanting to work there. The kids did great in school and parents were thrilled to send their kids there and get involved. Why? No laptops for every kid, no brand new desks or fancy white boards. Just great teachers who were allowed to teach, a community that was involved with the BOE and the teachers, and most important of all, a staff of teachers that were respected, well compensated, and allowed to use their teaching expertise to educate and encourage the young minds in their class. It was a great formula and the school was and probably still is, a resounding success. We have got a BOE that thinks it knows how to educate better than the educators. They really believe that new schools and new furnishings and new technology is the key to higher education. Kids will go to school and sit on an old wooden chair just the same as they would some shiny new plastic chair. They will read the same text on an old chalkboard the same as they would on a new whiteboard. But….they will NOT respond to an inexperienced, newly appointed teacher who is going through the motions and is wary that results matter or else they could be fired, as much as they would a veteran teacher who has happily been teaching for years and has a history with the community. Yes, I know, these are changing times. But sometimes, change isn’t always better. You just have to be smart enough to know when that is.

  3. “We have a superintendent, a board of education and a central office who steadfastly refuse to ask ‘will this help students learn?'”

    No, we have a superintendent who only asks, “Will this help students score better on standardized tests?” and “Will this get me more good press?” Actual learning is irrelevant.

    My wife attended a parents meeting at a SE Huntsville elementary school last week at which the principal actually referred to the students as “the product.” That’s what our kids are now: a product, no doubt soon to include a bar code for easy tracking.

  4. One solution may not fit all. But given the current arrangement for Providence Middle School students, what’s described here would be an improvement. Right now many Providence School zone kids travel 1-1.5 hours (or more!) to (and then from) Williams Middle School. Keeping 6th graders at Providence and sending 7th and 8th graders to space vacated at Columbia High School (by New Century) would be an immediate solution to that problem. (Though ideally there would simply be a 2nd middle school in this very large school zone).

    In our case, they are closing Providence Middle School because it is overcrowded. Try telling parents or school board members in other zones that their overcrowded is going to be closed and their kids will be attending another middle school 13-17 miles away!

    Are there more specifics on how HCS expressed their interest in ‘Closing Every Middle School’ with the idea of colocating 7th & 8th with high schools? I don’t see much here or in the links provided that suggest this is a plan.

    1. The comment that all the middle schools in the district would be closed was made to Johnson feeder parents who were upset at the idea that their children would be at Johnson from 7th grade on. This is a comment that Wardynski made during that meeting. It isn’t a fully hatched plan.

      Most middle schools will be of the Pre-K – 8th variety, if I had to guess. And so, the likelihood is that Providence students who have been sent to Williams Middle will end up staying at a combined Williams Elementary/Middle school rather than attending Columbia as you’re discussing.

      But as I said, this was a comment made by the superintendent to defend an action that he wants to take at Johnson. Who knows if or when he’ll actually push ahead on it.

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