Saving Mt. Gap

Mt. Gap Elementary

I’ve gotten many questions about my posts over the past few days, and so I feel that I need to summarize where we are in the process of the merger between Mt. Gap Elementary and Mt. Gap Middle.

On September 15th, Dr. Wardynski first introduced the idea of merging Mt. Gap Elementary and Middle Schools into a Mt. Gap Pre-8th Grade school. During this presentation, he stated:

We’re going to go down and have a discussion with the community, the PTAs and the principals and make sure that that concept fits with what the community would like to see. And then once we’ve got that, John’s already working on some concept drawings, come back to the board with a discussion about how that would unfold for board approval.

On the morning of September 26th, Dr. Wardynski and Dr. Robinson met with the PTA boards for Mt. Gap Elementary and Middle Schools to discuss this merger. These meetings were not open to the entire PTA membership of either of the schools, and so far as I am aware the only public details released from this meeting to the PTA of the elementary school may be seen in the two posts below. This was shared on the Mt. Gap Elementary School PTA Facebook on September 26th:

PTA Notice 1

PTA Notice 2

At the board meeting on November 3rd, briefly after the Lee High naming debacle, the board of education, with Dr. Robinson’s full and vocal support, approved Dr. Wardynski’s recommendation to merge Mt. Gap Elementary and Middle Schools. You’ll note that there is no discussion about why he believes the merger is necessary.

There is no justification for the merger offered of any kind.

We were told that “all along the way” Dr. Wardynski “will be working with our PTA and families to seek input and ideas on the proposed changes.”

So far as I am aware, the only meeting that Dr. Wardynski had with our PTA and families was this past Tuesday, March 13, 2012. During this meeting, he pointedly refused to accept any input and ideas on the proposed changes.

I feel it necessary to point out that I am was not convinced that this merger was a bad idea. On September 15th, shortly after the announcement of the idea, I posted on Mt. Gap Elementary’s Facebook page the following:

RW Comments

If I, as a parent, could find those two examples in about 15 minutes of looking, surely, Dr. Wardynski has far greater access to research on this plan than I. I mean, that is what we pay him for right?

And yet, when I asked him for specific evidence showing that P-8s perform better than separate elementary and middle schools, his only response, his only evidence was to say that a closed school doesn’t out perform anyone.

In other words, the top educator of Huntsville City Schools refused to educate the public when offered the opportunity.

A teacher never misses an opportunity to teach. Dr. Wardynski is no teacher.

But my point here is that until they refused to talk with the public, until they decided to pretend that public opinion doesn’t matter, until they decided to attack people who are simply seeking information, my mind was open concerning the merger. This is why I did not actively write about this issue until after the meeting this past week.

As I wrote on November 4th, Dr. Wardynski broke his promise to meet with the community to discuss if this merger plan was what we wanted.

So, yes, the decision to merge the two schools has been made. The board approved this decision four months ago. Since that time, there has been one and only one meeting with Dr. Wardynski and the whole PTA. During this meeting, he spent an hour talking about the system as a whole and approximately 30 minutes responding to a few questions concerning the merger.

He accepted no suggestions or input concerning the proposed changes.

He offered no justification for his actions other than, Mt. Gap Elementary is inefficient. He offered no evidence of this at all. Not one single, verifiable piece of evidence.

Thus, despite having an open mind six months ago, I now believe that this merger plan is wrong.

Dr. Wardynski works for us; we do not work for him. We do not need to be afraid to ask questions; he must be afraid of not answering them. We do not need to go to him with our hats in our hands begging him to have mercy upon us; he needs to be asking us for our forgiveness for breaking his word to us.

Will contacting Dr. Robinson, as I suggested in an earlier post, keep the merger from happening?

Honestly, probably not.

But that doesn’t mean that contacting her to let her know that we’re dissatisfied with Dr. Wardynski’s broken promise will accomplish nothing. Call Dr. Robinson and Dr. Wardynski and insisting that they offer an educational justification for combining the two schools will let them know that we are here, and that we are paying attention to what they are doing to our schools.

It will remind them that education is entirely about the asking and answering of questions. It will remind them that they must do more than just say “this is what we decided to do regardless of what you think or want.”

It will remind them that this is not a monarchy, and Dr. Wardynski is not our king.

If you agree, please contact Dr. Wardynski and Dr. Robinson and tell them so.

If you disagree, please contact Dr. Wardynski and Dr. Robinson and tell them so.

Either way, they will be reminded that they work for us.

You may reach Dr. Robinson at personalbest@knology.net. You may reach Dr. Wardynski at drw@hsv.k12.al.us or via telephone at 256-428-6810.



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


  1. Emailing those two will do no good. If they do not care about special needs students (since resources are better used elsewhere) and their families; why would they care about students at an “inefficient” school?

    I am “wishing my life away” in looking forward to Dr. Robinson running for re-election in 2 years. Once AGAIN I will take great pleasure in voting against her. Better yet maybe she will not seek re-election!

    1. I agree that it won’t actually accomplish much of anything, but it will let them know that we’re here, and that we disagree with their decisions to merge our school.

      Thanks for your post; I really appreciate it.

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