There will be a special called Huntsville City Schools school board meeting tomorrow (Thursday, September 29, 2011) at 8:30am to discuss the purchasing of Planware – Student Locator, School Boundary Planning School Bus Routing Software, to approve the hiring of additional personnel in the HR report, and to vote on principal contracts at Blossomwood and Monte Sano. I do not know if the contracts being discussed are new contracts, renewals or cancellations. If someone knows, please let me know.
The HR report will reportedly include a new Occupational Therapist for Challenger Elementary. Challenger Elementary has been without an OT for the past 14 school days, and reportedly, a new OT will be hired tomorrow and start on Friday of this week.
Supposedly, the new OT will be making up the missed OT sessions on Fridays for the next 14 weeks. There’s been little to no explanation about how replacing one over-worked OT with one other OT who is now at least two weeks behind will “fix” the problem, but I’m glad that they are at least doing this much.
They should also approve as a part of the HR report the transfer of Ms. Jin Debow from Williams Elementary to Challenger Elementary to alleviate the overcrowding in a special needs resource room at Challenger that has 12 students. Supposedly, Williams Elementary has two special needs resource rooms with approximately 4 students in each. These two rooms are being combined into one room of eight, and Ms. Debow will be transferred to Challenger so that the room with 12 can be split in half.
Quick rhetorical question:
If there were two resource rooms of four at Williams and two resource rooms of twenty at Challenger (which grew to 22, as classes almost always do), why didn’t this transfer take place before school began? Doing this proactively rather than retroactively would have allowed the students to have already made the adjustment to a new teacher at the beginning of the year rather than two months in. As a result, at least 30 students–who have difficulty adjusting to change–at two schools are being forced to change mid-stream. This type of planning really must improve. [I’ve learned that these numbers probably aren’t correct. There were at least three resource rooms at Williams. But I do still wish that the Superintendent, upon completion of his review of Special Education on August 4th could have realized that a classroom operating at capacity would likely grow at some point during the school year.]
As many parents have said when they heard the news yesterday, “Finally.”
This is the problem with overloading your teachers and staff: when one person leaves, there’s no replacement available. Once a replacement can be found, this person is then forced to play “catch-up” for a third of the year, thereby, overworking the replacement.
This problem is repeating itself all over the system. Everywhere, that is, except the upper levels of the central office.
Despite the unusual timing of the meeting, I will be in attendance. As always, the meeting will be broadcast on ETV (Comcast 17, Knology 99), 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.
I have asked that the board review and publicly address the fact that Special Needs students are carrying 61% of the total cuts in the system at the next regular board meeting scheduled for October 11th. I have been informed by my board member that the issue will be discussed privately with Dr. Wardynski and the board president. I have asked that this be made an agenda item for that meeting. If you agree, please contact your board member and request the same.