Lack of planning by Huntsville City Schools…
New hotness – making informed decisions based on a long range vision…
I attended the HCS Board of Education meeting at noon today – which illustrates the sense of urgency that I believe Superintendent Dr. Casey Wardynski brings to the schools. The Board has been meeting fairly often and on fairly short notice to make decisions, and I commend them for taking prompt action. My Board member David Blair ‘attended’ the meeting via telecom – which is a welcome use of time and technology.
The School Board approved:
1) a Human Resources report hiring 18 people, mostly for replacements. The schools still need to hire another 15 or so people to be approved at the next Board meeting. Note that no classes are unsupervised and that substitute teachers are filling in for now.
2) Temporary agreements for 11 nurses through October. The plan is for the State to train some nurses to cover multiple venues and then re-evaluate / rightsize the agreements for the next fiscal year.
3) a new job description for the Director of Community Engagement and Partnership Development. This position seems to roll three current (but unfilled?) positions into one job - replacing Public Relations, Grants, and Partnership positions. The position was recommended by The Schools Foundation Speak Up program.
IMO, Speak Up seems like a feel good PR program – nice website but not much substance; for example, Speak Up posted their Huntsville City Data Results on July 14, 2011, but the data ‘presented’ was from the ‘community engagement initiative’ of 2006 and 2007. The presentation consisted of four PDF files (92 page, 41 page, 29 page, 41 page) listing ideas gathered at the meetings. My guess is that the meetings covered more than education – comments about getting a Macy’s department store and more restaurants seem more appropriate for the Mayor’s business initiative. There may be some nuggets in the files but there are no results.
Wardynski spoke about the University Place Elementary student who got onto the wrong bus Wednesday. The child was expected to be on an after school bus but didn’t have the parental note – Casey said that the principal resolved that issue and that the bus procedures were “fine”. The schools are looking at setting up a swipe card system to track students, in addition to the GPS and video on board the buses.
However, this afternoon a second child got on the wrong bus at Morris Elementary.
The procedures may be “fine” but it seems like a mishap reduction stand down may be necessary.
Special education parent Russ Winn attended the meeting. Winn posted ‘Perturbed by Change’ in which he includes this quote from Wardysnki:
The interests of the kids will always come first. I do have resource constraints… We’ve attempted here to make sure we have a plan that we can live with. That they won’t be perturbed by change.
Casey was answering a question about the special ed consolidation using the Providence to Williams move as an example: minimizing disruptions to kid’s educations through planning. Let’s hope Casey comes up with a good plan that satisfies the needs of the kids and the taxpayers.
Winn also wrote:
…there was a time not too long ago when I thought that fighting the central office decisions concerning my son’s education was not terribly wise. I was concerned about retaliation and becoming known as Dr. Moore put it once, one of those “confrontational” parents.
Casey assured us that people won’t be punished for speaking up (remember C.J. Grisham), however while Dr. Moore may be ‘gone’, many of the people involved in retaliating against a parent for speaking up at a PTA meeting are still employed by the school system. Winn’s concern is authentic and valid. IMO until those involved are held publicly accountable the public cannot really trust the school system.
The dead trees at the Merts Center were planted in the wrong place – whoever planted them didn’t have a good long term plan for growth. That’s old and busted – let’s hope the schools have the new hotness.