I was planning to write about my adventures in opting out of the STAR Enterprise test next, but it seems that the board and the superintendent with the assistance of The Huntsville Times reporter Challen Stephens has decided that today, without any prior public discussion of the issue, was a good day to announce to the city that we should “Get Ready for the Rezoning of Huntsville City Schools.” As such, the discussion of opting out will have to wait a day or so.
Today Mr. Stephens, as a mouthpiece for the superintendent and the board of education, told the city that, “it’s time to redraw school zones throughout Huntsville.” He went on to write:
But change itself should not come as a surprise. Huntsville almost two years ago hired a retired Army colonel to fix its school system, and the board made a point of asking him to end the 43-year-old court order to desegregate city schools. Rezoning is a small part of the plan to do just that.
It’s a shame that Mr. Stephens decided to reprint what basically amounts to a press release from the board announcing this as if the decision has long since been made about rezoning. But he went further by claiming that no one should be surprised by this necessity because we all knew this was coming when we hired Wardynski and the board made achieving unitary status one of his priorities.
This sounds awfully good on paper; it’s a shame that there’s so little truth in this statement.
No Mention of Rezoning
You see, I’ve attended all but three board meetings held during Dr. Wardynski’s tenure. The three that I missed, I watched from home or on the DVD recordings available from ETV.
I’ve heard every single public discussion concerning unitary status that has occurred at a board meeting. Every single one. And you know what, not once since Wardynski was hired has there been a single public mention of rezoning during a board meeting.
Not one single mention.
So, I’m not sure what Mr. Stephens is basing his claim that “change itself should not come as a surprise.”
When the district, when the superintendent specifically state that rezoning will not occur, I’m sorry, but it does tend to come as a bit of a surprise, no matter how the Times might wish to spin it.
Wardynski Told Public No Rezoning
On January 14th, Dr. Wardynski met with the public to discuss moving Grissom High School to a new location just behind Sam’s Club on South Parkway.
During this meeting, Dr. Wardynski was asked a question about rezoning that he responded to fairly (for him, anyway) directly.
Q: Are you considering rezoning with the new Grissom?
A: No. If there is [any rezoning], it will be for currently zoned students, not transferring students.”
Dr. Wardynski went on to say that he “will not have students transferring across town – students will go to new schools at Johnson or Butler in their home school zone.”
As I said, for him, this was a fairly direct and to the point response to a direct question. It’s a shame that Mr. Stephens was evidently unaware that Wardynski had long since told us that there would not be any rezoning of Grissom High.
So yes, it does indeed come as a surprise that rezoning is now being presented as a necessity.
And really, since evidently not even the board has seen the final plan (which is nearly impossible to believe, by the way), I do have to ask how Mr. Stephens knows that “Rezoning is a small part of the plan to do just that.”
And again, if the board hasn’t seen the plan yet (as the article claims), how does Mr. Blair know that “the current plan would not rezone Blossomwood into Lee High?” How does he know that “I think Huntsville High stays pretty strong” (quite a reassuring endorsement, isn’t it)? How can Dr. Robinson claim, “I’m not seeing anything that gives me a great deal of concern?” (And really, can anyone name anything that Wardynski has done that has given Robinson “a great deal of concern?”)
What we have here is another attempt by Wardynski to use “the press” and the board of education to push his agenda on the city without any public input at all.
Even though there has been zero mention of rezoning in a public meeting, even though Dr. Wardynski himself assured the public at the town hall meeting that there would be no rezoning, we’re already being told that anyone who has a problem with this “plan” simply hasn’t been paying attention.
It seems that it is instead the Huntsville Times that hasn’t been paying attention. Isn’t that actually the only job the paper has? Shame they refuse to do it.
This is Our City. These are Our Schools.
This city belongs to us, the people. It doesn’t belong to the Huntsville Times. It doesn’t belong to the Huntsville Board of Education. It doesn’t belong to Dr. Wardynski. It belongs to us.
It’s time to remind Dr. Wardynski, the feckless board of education, Mr. Brooks and the Times that this is our city.
If you wish to do this, you may wish to speak during the public comments section of the board meeting scheduled for Thursday night at 5:30pm. If you wish to speak on this or any issue, you have to sign up before the meeting. The easiest way to do this is to email Debbie Jennings the Superintendent’s secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell her that you would like to be placed on the citizens’ comments list representing yourself to speak to the issue of rezoning.
You should demand to see the rezoning plan. You should insist that the public have input into developing the plan.
The district employees and the board of education work for us. They owe us specific answers without pushing for acceptance of the “plan” before we’ve even seen it.