New school CFO and IRL

This afternoon, the Huntsville City Schools Board of Education approved the hiring of Frank Spinelli as Chief Financial Officer. Crystal Bonvillian of The Huntsville Times wrote “Huntsville school board hires new CFO during special meeting”:

…Spinelli, a certified public accountant and certified internal auditor, served as a manager for BDO Seidman in New York, which today is part of the fifth largest international accounting and consulting network in the world. He also spent time at Reichmann International, a real estate holding company with headquarters in Toronto.

Board member Jennie Robinson said Spinelli has a strong background in finance, but also in project management and strategic planning.

As an employee of the board, Spinelli will have dual accountability, Wardynski said. He will report directly to the superintendent on a day-to-day basis but will also report to the board.

The school board meeting was focused and over quickly; in addition to hiring Spinelli, the Board authorized the rehiring of several teachers, including three special education teachers.  The board also voted to approve some temporary agreements which exposed the need to improve financial processes.  Superintendent Dr. Casey Wardynski noted “workflow issues” and commented that the system is “currently on paper and needs to be electronic”.  Casey also observed that funds need to be available before being obligated.

In real life…

Before the meeting, I got to chat with my school board member David Blair – we spoke about the Huntsville Center for Technology (IMO a wonderful resource – I took an electrical class there last year – cost about $200) and about special education. 

After the meeting, I got to speak with Russ Winn, who writes Geek Palaver.  Russ is a ‘reluctant’ leader in the special education community – the recent turmoil led him to leadership in order to protect his children in the HCS.  I recommend that you spend a few minutes reading his posts to get a feel for his point of view.  Russ says that transparency and communication would be helpful, and that the Superintendent and the School Board haven’t provided much of either yet. 

Winn was interviewed by WHNT’s star reporter Venton Blandin (whose Reporting for Duty Marine special is getting a lot of buzz) and WAFF’s Margo Gray.

I also got to speak with Superintendent Casey Wardysnki after the meeting (for the first time).  Casey reminded me of some people I’ve worked with and that I’ve fallen into some of my old habits, in that if asked what time it is, I’ll tell you how to build a watch (those who know me will recognize that).  I asked if Casey was familiar with C.J. Grisham’s experience with speaking out about the school system – Casey said that he was somewhat familiar with the issue  and that C.J.’s experience wouldn’t “happen on my watch”.  Casey also said that he believed in communication and transparency.   Well, I kept on going and then Casey asked what I expected him to do about it (what time is it) – I replied that he had already answered the issue (not on my watch).  Overall, nice chat, plus Casey reminds me of some of the sharpest people with whom I’ve worked.  I’m counting on Casey’s sense of urgency to improve student performance and I’m pleased that Casey is mindful of taxpayer interests.

I went downtown after the meeting, and kept running into education - ’Genius Style’ innovator Glenn Clayton of Appleton Learning Center chatted about “building a smarter tomorrow” for Huntsville.

I also got to speak with TEDx organizer Amy Robinson - she’s learning how to play the ukulele – I suggested Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe Through the Tulips”…

How often do George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation arise in conversation?  Often enough that you might consider following the link above… 

“Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”


4 thoughts on “New school CFO and IRL

  1. Thanks for the shout out. It was a pleasure meeting you guys tonight. Hopefully we can make a difference in the direction our school system is taking.


  2. Spinelli sounds like a good hire. I look forward to seeing what some competent financial management will mean for the school system.

  3. “Casey also observed that funds need to be available before being obligated.”

    Brilliant!! (Now, if the school board can understand that we believe this truth to be self-evident, we’ll be on our way to solvency :-)

  4. Reactionary– Watched the SB meeting and, as usual, was impressed with our new schools leader. Thanks for succinct summation, but especially for the quote from Rules. We all need reminders. I shall reread.