Three of the five members of the Huntsville City School Board voted for Casey Wardynski to be OUR school Superintendent,
Retired Army Colonel Wardysnki (who prefers to be called Casey) developed the America’s Army video game for the US Army, taught at West Point for 15 years, improved Army personnel policy, and learned about education at the Broad Academy (which is the premier education policy center in the US).
Casey speaks in terms of “feasibility and efficacy” and also gets glowing comments from those who’ve worked with him. Several people have told me that you will work your butt off to please him, because he inspires that level of commitment. Having known leaders like Casey, I’m excited for our schools.
The school board meeting was held at City Hall in (correct) anticipation of a large crowd. As a prelude to the selection of our new superintendent, the demographer hired by the city gave his report. Quick look (with more after I review the full report):
1. Close Butler High School
Either 1a) combine Davis Hills, Ed White, and Westlawn into middle school at Butler, or 1b) close Davis Hills MS to Ed White and Chapman
Either 2a) close Whitesburg MS to Mountain Gap and Challenger or 2b) close Mountain Gap MS to Whitesburg and Challenger
1) close Monte Sano to Blossomwood
Either 2a) close Whitesburg ES to Chaffee, Weatherly, and Jones Valley or 2b) close Mountain Gap
3) close West Mastin Lake ES
4) close Montview ES
Move New Century to the new Lee High School
Celebrate Success! The rate of 9th graders advancing to 10th grade (which is a critical transition) improved from 78% to 91% in the past five years. That is huge. Why? How? Who?
Kudos to the City of Huntsville for funding the demographer Dr. Steve Salmon. The report should be available on the HCS website soon. Public meetings will be held very soon (like starting next week) for comments.
My first guess is that Salmon didn’t look outside current school zones for consolidation; in fact, one of his recommendations was for the school system to establish a student GIS. This recommendation complements the databases proposed by all three candidates for superintendent. Note that one of my concerns is that members of one of the most partisan and hateful (and cheatful) political organizations would have access to any school database developed by the school system. Privacy should be a fundamental concern for administrators – we’ve already seen Huntsville schools punish parents for speaking out – what could they do with more data?
Kudos to Topper Birney for running a good selection process. My only complaint (shared with The Huntsville Times) is that the board went into closed executive session to talk about “the good name and character” of the candidates. If “good name and character” was still an issue after downselecting to the top three candidates, then the process was flawed (were any of the three candidates bad characters?).
IMO the board went into special session to try to get a 5-0 vote (which didn’t happen). Casey was supported by David Blair and Jennie Robinson (and all right-thinking people), while Dr. Dan Brigman was supported by Alta Morrison and Laurie McCauley (and the AEA). Morrison mis-remembered Casey’s interview to criticize him while McCauley was just plain “unfair” (saying that Casey wouldn’t relate to inarticulate people). Birney was the swing vote.
More later. For now, congratulations to Huntsville.