There will be a board meeting tonight (Thursday, September 15th) at 5:30pm at the Merts Building on 200 White Street. If you are able to attend, I encourage you to do so.
The agenda was published last evening, and it includes several interesting items under both the Work Session and the Action Items. At the top of the list is “Board Goals for Superintendent.”
This is a report that was developed over the past two weeks by Dr. Robinson and Mrs. McCaulley. They worked together to develop the goals for the Superintendent to be evaluated upon. This is an excellent idea. So excellent, in fact, that one would have thought these goals would have been developed before the search process for the new superintendent began. (By the way, according to Wardynski’s contract, these goals were to have been established by September 1, 2011. I suppose missing that deadline by a couple of weeks isn’t too bad.) But they are at least moving forward on them now.
Two weeks ago, Dr. Wardynski laid out his suggestions for evaluation. They included:
- Raising Student Achievement: The Superintendent should close the gap between students who are succeeding, and those who are not.
- Fix the Budget Crisis: The Superintendent should correct the budget crisis, save schools, and do so without further layoffs. Dr. Wardynski stated that, “Staffing is the key to student achievement.”
- Address Staffing Issues: Staffing of the district is critical to address the first two goals, and as such the district needs to “get to market earlier” than they did this year. Dr. Wardynski is seeking the ability to provide letters of commitment for teachers as early as the spring so that the mad rush we faced in August (and still in September it appears) to address staffing needs is corrected in the future. If Huntsville City Schools wants to attract the best teachers, they will need to do so early.
- Improve Technology: The system needs to do a better job of improving technology, its use and implementation throughout the system. As such, Dr. Wardynski is recommending the hiring of a Chief Technology Officer (Yes, another Central Office Position, and I believe this is a new position. We currently have two “Technology Coordinators” in the system. I would assume that the CTO would supervise those people. Included in this goal is a subgoal of addressing the backlog of maintenance and repairs of the facilities in the system. John Brown stated two weeks ago that there are some issues with the maintenance of the buildings that have been on the books for repair for years.
In addition to these four goals, the board also mentioned that the goals need to be clearly quantifiable and measurable. Obviously this needs to be addressed, and I’m pleased that the board is moving in a direction that will bring transparency and quantifiable evaluation to the job the superintendent is doing. One of the reasons that we are still paying Dr. Moore her salary is that the board did not have an effective evaluation tool (or possibly that they did not effectively use the tools they had) for assessing her performance. This clearly needs to be addressed.
However, the board has repeatedly stated when discussing these goals that they are directly tied to a performance bonus for Dr. Wardynski, and that, rather than the improvement of the system, is the motivation for developing this evaluation tool.
This is a mistake. Simply put, no one in the system, not the Superintendent, the CSFO, the assistant Superintendent (who’s job description will be approved tonight), nor anyone else at any level should be eligible to receive a bonus while our teachers’ STEP raises are still frozen. Doing so sends a clear signal to the system, our teachers, and our community that education and student achievement are secondary issues to this board and administration.
If teachers’ salaries are frozen, this should indicate to the board that the Superintendent is not doing everything in his power to raise student achievement, fix the budget crisis, nor address staffing issues.
In other words, if teachers’ salaries are set at the state minimum and are frozen at their current level, this should automatically disqualify the Superintendent from receiving a bonus as he has not fully met the goals he is required to meet to receive the bonus.
Again, the board and the Superintendent should put students first in this process.
Other points of interest tonight include:
- An iNow Update. I wonder if we’ll be told how great the system is working again?
- A report on “Strategic Staffing.” I wonder if this will be a new approach to hiring fewer teachers at lower rates to free up money to hire more administrators at higher rates?
- A report on “STAR Enterprise Contract.”
- A report from “PROACT Staffing Search.” (It seems we’re hiring another consultant firm as under action items the board will vote to approve a contract with this company.)
- John Brown will offer a 5 year State Capital Plan. (Presumably this will be a discussion for taking care of the capital improvements that have been on the list for years.)
- A report on the “District Staff Organization.” (It will be interesting to hear what this is about. There have been a few rumors of “re-orgs” in the central office. It will be interesting to see what shakes out of this report.)
- A vote to approve the Deputy Superintendent Contract. (Anybody want to take a bet that the salary will be closer to $135,000 per year rather than $85,000 per year? Anyone?)
The meeting will be broadcast on ETV (Comcast 17, Knology 99-it has recently moved from 71), and at the Huntsville City Schools’ website. I will also be live-tweeting the meeting @russwinn. You can follow on Twitter or on the Geek Palaver Facebook Page.