Old and busted

Lack of planning by Huntsville City Schools…

Poorly sited trees at Merts

Poorly sited trees at Merts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

HCS Superintendent Interview – Wardynski

Dr. Casey Wardynski, CFO of the Aurora CO Schools, interviewed for HCS Superintendent on Wednesday, May 25.

I believe that Wardynski is the best candidate for our next HCS Superintendent.  Some of my belief comes from knowing his background (and sharing some of that type experience).  Some of my belief comes from learning about the Broad (rhymes with rode) Superintendents Academy – each of the other candidates mentioned Broad – Wardynski was a fellow at Broad.  Some of my belief comes from his having lived in Huntsville (his son was born here) and having his former co-workers attend his interview (many more wrote Letters of Recommendation – IIRC including former Mayor Steve Hettinger of SAIC).  IMO Wardynski also nailed the interviews: he gave compelling presentations and knew every issue in depth. 

Wardynski speaks in terms of data-driven approaches, proven techniques, and results.  To be fair, so did the other candidates, but IMO Wardynski had a greater understanding of “why” stuff works (and just as importantly, why stuff doesn’t work).

Assessing Wardynski against the standard of “letting food rot in an emergency”:  Wardynski would have anticipated the threat four years ago, wired the schools for mobile generators, acquired mobile generators, trained and drilled staff in the response plan, asssessed the current food stock versus the needed stock through the end of the school year, not only arranged for students to volunteer serving non-perishable foods, but also served excess food, then awarded extra credit for students who wrote Powerpoint presentations on probabilistic analysis of weather patterns applied to disaster management in a value-added learning culture.  Teachers would have volunteered, modeling good character and effective leadership while applying vocabulary lessons.  Principals and staff would have collected metrics for use in improving the performance of the system, which would be used to calibrate the plan based on data and lessons learned.

BTW note that Madison County Schools are wiring their buildings for mobile generators and plan to buy enough generators to rotate among the schools, so I totally ripped that great idea off.

UPDATE:  interview notes

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HCS Superintendent Interview – Springston

Brett Springston, Superintendent of the Brownsville TX Independent School District interviewed for HCS Superintendent on Tuesday, May 24.

My opinion:  Coach Springston is a hard-working, passionate, and bright candidate.  He has a record of improving student academic achievement and system financial  performance.  He started coaching basketball at a junior college for a scholarship to UT – Tyler.  Just like candidate Brigman, his approach to education includes every good lesson learned and proven technique that I’ve read about.  I was unsure about Springston from my online research – he seemed to be good but some of his current school board was trying to get rid of him – turns out he is good and the school board situation is beyond his control and not of his creation.  Brownsville’s school system is more than twice as large as Huntsville’s.

Assessing Springston against my new standard of letting food rot in an emergency:  Springston would have kept the frozen food frozen, gathered students to help prepare and serve still-good perishable food at relief centers, and organized sports programs for the children of tornado victims and relief workers – all in a safe environment.

Much more below (updated with even more muchness!)…

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HCS Superintendent Interview – Brigman

Dr. Daniel Brigman of the Macon County NC schools introduced himself and responded to questions at Fort Book on Monday, May 23.  About 40 people representing various community groups attended, as well as State Representative Laura Hall (D-19) and School Board members Birney, McCauley, Morrison, and Robinson.

My opinion: Brigman is a very sharp candidate.  I liked him when I researched him initially, and he is better in person.  His approach to education seems to include every good lesson learned that I’ve read about.  He seems to be a good leader and communicates well.  My new standard for a Superintendent is: will they let food rot in an emergency?  Brigman would have found a way to keep the frozen food frozen, plus he would have gathered a team of students to help prepare and serve the still-good perishable foods at relief centers.  Students would be offered extra credit for writing reports on tornadoes.

More below…

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HCS Superintendent Recommendation

Dr. Daniel Brigman, Superintendent of the Macon County NC Schools, interviewed Monday, May 23 to be the Superintendent of Huntsville City Schools.   Brett Springston, Superintendent of the Brownsville TX Independent School District, interviewed on Tuesday, May 24.  Dr. Casey Wardynski, CFO of the Aurora CO Schools interviewed today May 25. 

I attended the Community Forum each morning at the Library for all three candidates, plus the School Board interviews for Springston and Wardynski.  The Schools will be running the interviews on ETV (Comcast 17 and Knology 71) and I’m told they will have the interviews available online.  I also got a chance to chat with each one but only got to ask questions of Springston and Wardynski.

The Board of Education will select our next Superintendent from those three candidates at the June 2 meeting.  I thought that the Board did a nice job of downselecting to the three candidates interviewed.  IMO any of the three would do a good job.  However…

There can be only one, and I recommend Dr. Casey Wardynski for our next Superintendent. 

As a good citizen: I listened to the presentations, did some research, thought about it, and provided my input to my School Board member David Blair.  I encourage you all to watch their interviews, read all about it in The Times, and read my following posts for each candidate (rather than write for hours and leave you hanging I decided to just go public with this post first).  Then, contact your School Board member and let them know what you think.

Note that each one of the candidates was pleased by the reception they got in Huntsville and impressed by the support shown by the community. 

I think that the City will emerge from this episode stronger than ever.  However, keep in mind that children stuck in failing schools suffer for our City’s mistakes.  It shouldn’t have taken a financial crisis to wake people up to the deplorable academic performance that is accepted at many of our schools.  David Blair calls it “immoral”.  Whatever you want to call it, it is time for positive change.

Now, on to each candidate’s presentation…

HCS Superintendent Search

So far, two of the three candidates for Huntsville City Schools Superintendent have been interviewed.  So far, I am impressed by the candidates: Dr. Daniel Brigman and Brett Springston – I attended a few of the events and will post my write up as soon as Dr. Casey Wardynski finishes interviewing tomorrow.  Brigman and Springston each made suggestions that are worthy of further study.  The Board of Education deserves commendation for implementing a process that produced these three finalists.

The Board will choose our Superintendent at the June 2 regular meeting next week, then give the successful candidate 30 days to wrap up and move to Huntsville starting in early July.  Note that each candidate prepared a “60-day Plan” for the Board that should be available on the Schools’ website in the next day or so.  Each candidate was also asked to prepare an analysis of a failing school – I hope that the Board makes each candidate’s assessment and recommendations public.

The Board will also make the demographer’s report public at the June 2 meeting.

Huntsville school board: elected or appointed?

Huntsville’s own renaissance man Challen Stephens of  The Huntsville Times wrote “Huntsville school board: elected or appointed?”:

“I yearn for folks with a business background being able to get involved and make these hard decisions,” said Rep. Phil Williams, R-Toney, who is leading the call to do away with the little district elections. “I’m a bit frustrated we’re to this point.”

He said the city board’s failure to plan for anticipated state budget cuts now threatens the economic health of the whole area. Williams said he is speaking to lawmakers about a proposal to place board appointments in the hands of the city council.

…”I haven’t heard an outcry from the people for changing anything,” said Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison. “They’ve certainly got problems, but it didn’t happen over night … that’s why the people elected them. They’ve got to find a way forward.”

…Madison residents may apply to serve on the board. Each year the city council screens applicants, holds public interviews, and makes one appointment.

Madison Mayor Paul Finley said the system has worked “extremely well,” as voters hold council members accountable, while “apolitical” board members are freed from the competition between different parts of the city. “We’ve done redistricting four times in the last 11 years,” he said.

“There’s a lot of people who would not feel comfortable in an election process,” said Finley on Wednesday, “but they feel very comfortable in being appointed by a city council.”

The problems with the Huntsville Housing Authority should remind us of the dangers of unelected bureaucrats and appointed boards.

I like elections.  Political Science professor and TV hunk Dr. Jess Brown of Athens State does too (was I indoctrinated during his classes?), from his discussion this morning with the “most interesting man in Alabama” Dale Jackson on WVNN (AM770 / FM92.5).  While the HCS Superintendent’s job is technocratic, I’d be in favor of an elected Superintendent (like Madison County).

I also like partisanship.  I think that municipal offices (Mayor, Council, School Board) should be elected in partisan elections.  The benefits are: cost savings from not having a separate municipal election system, greater turnout, two shots at getting the best candidate (primary and general).

It’s a management problem

“It’s not a money problem. It’s a management problem,” said Mayor Tommy Battle late Friday. “We should be able to provide excellence in education for the money we are providing them.”

And it’s a management problem we’ve known about for some time, but have done nothing to remedy.   Dr. Ann Roy Moore and many of her staffers and administrators should have been fired in 2009 after they harassed a parent (Grisham) for speaking out at a PTA meeting and then lied about it to a school board member.

A well-run, transparent, honest administration wouldn’t conduct itself in such a shabby manner.  It should be no surprise that in addition to being vicious, the school administration’s demonstrated immorality extends to putting our children’s education and our City’s economy at risk.  It is (past) time to appoint an Acting Superintendent and clean house.

The Huntsville Times Editor Kevin Wendt wrote “EDITORIAL: Financial triage for Huntsville City Schools”:

There is no single person in the Huntsville City School system’s administration or on the elected board that has the crisis management experience required to lead the system out of its current financial straits with the sense of urgency that is required.

It’s triage time. We need someone who can immediately assess the system and make fast, critical decisions to keep it alive and out of bankruptcy. Stabilizing finances now will keep the system from falling deeper into debt in the next two years, giving time for a long-term plan to be developed.

…It is clear that for years – dating back to 2005 – warnings were shared with the superintendent and board that were either not taken seriously or just plain weren’t understood.

…So the challenge to the board is this: If there is a decision that adds to the team someone who can provide direction, leadership and community-wide buy-in for difficult short-term solutions and sets the table for future plans, will you make that vote?

The community is not going to tolerate nibbling around the edges with the same folks who allowed the system to get to this point.

But with openness, the inclusion of experts and the removal of those wedded to the status quo, you have an opportunity to build the support needed to execute a plan that stabilizes Huntsville City Schools and positions it for the future.

Wendt is calling for an Acting Superintendent.

Challen Stephens of The Huntsville Times is fired up – he wrote “Who will lead Huntsville City Schools out of current financial mess?”:

It’s not OK, it’s not normal, and it’s not happening everywhere else. Huntsville City Schools appear adrift in uncharted waters, nearly $20 million in debt, facing more layoffs and more school closings.

A plan to cut spending by millions is needed within the next few months, or the system risks bankruptcy and state takeover, according to both the state and the mayor.

…But the city school board, having decided last summer not to renew the contract of the superintendent, is months away from naming a new chief. And made abundantly clear at Thursday’s board meeting was that no one within the school system has yet stepped forward to lead the spending cuts.

…But the system has slipped into a lame duck phase, with Superintendent Ann Roy Moore told she would be leaving on July 1. There is no designated leader for the future, but there is a sudden call for creative cutting and long-term planning.

…[Mayor Tommy] Battle said late Friday that the city has gotten involved, sending in the county’s former school finance director David Smith and city financial adviser Phil Dotts to offer advice. Battle said city and business leaders are concerned about leadership and that discussions have covered everything including recall elections and changing to an appointed school board.

Recall the school board?  It is legal in Alabama, but difficult (as it should be).  Chattanooga Mayor Littleton recently (Sept 2010) withstood a recall challenge in court because his opponents failed to comply with complex recall laws.  However, I’m pretty sure that there are enough lawyers in Huntsville to manage a recall properly –  and there would be no problem getting enough signatures.

Three of the five school board members were elected just a few months ago – Topper Birney and Jennie Robinson were re-elected and David Blair won an open seat.  Municipal elections for Laurie McCaulley and Alta Morrison are in two years.  Serving as a school board member is a fairly thankless and underappreciated job, but at times like these the public is held accountable for their votes – this is the school board we elected.  I hope that David Blair, the only comparatively untainted board member, will step up to the leadership challenges facing us.

Elections have consequences.

***

IIRC many years ago the schools commissioned a report that suggested sweeping changes to avoid becoming an ‘inner city’ school system.  It was ignored and we’re that much closer to having an inner city school system.  Private schools are booming, home schooling is booming, Madison City and Madison County schools are booming – and Huntsville is losing students. 

Turns out that the school administration and school board ignored another report.  Crystal Bonvillian of The Huntsville Times wrote “State official says board, city must collaborate on school system fix”:

The distress began long before last year’s hearings, however. A 2005 report by David Smith, a retired finance director for Madison County Schools, laid out the burgeoning problem.

The report, addressed to Huntsville City Schools finance director Herbert Wheeler, stated that the school system’s 2006 budget reflected a $3.74 million shortfall in its operation fund related to the opening of two new schools in the district.

A projected increase of more than 70 certified teacher units and 24 support units, without an additional source of revenue, “makes it impossible to have a balanced budget and will require almost a 50 percent reduction in your present fund balance,” Smith wrote at the time.

Smith also pointed out that the system was using too much of its general fund to pay personnel costs and that, for the 2006 fiscal year, the system had 321 local teaching units that that would cost $16 million in local dollars.

“You cannot afford to fund this many (teacher) units,” Smith wrote.

…In Smith’s 2005 review of the school system’s facilities, he warned of the problems caused by building new schools without taking any of the older schools out of the picture.

David Smith just joined Mary Jane Caylor on my list of potential Acting Superintendents.

We’ll start the process for you

Dr. Craig Pouncey of the State Department of Education says that if the Huntsville City School system waits too long to start the process of making cuts, he will “start the process for you.”

The Huntsville City Schools are in a terrible position:  decisions must be made quickly that will affect the entire City for decades; my guess is that they have about a month;  and our current leadership pretty much stinks.

It is clear to me that Dr. Ann Roy Moore is a failure as Superintendent.  Dr. Moore should be removed from the decision-making process.  The Board of Education should appoint an Acting Superintendent – I suggest outgoing State Board of Education member Mary Jane Caylor (or someone like her) – to help develop and implement the hard decisions to be made (closing about 10 schools and firing hundreds of people and rezoning).

Raising taxes shouldn’t even be considered.  Does anyone believe that they could sell a tax increase to the citizens of Huntsville (or Madison County) given the proven fiscal irresponsibility of the school system?  Trying to PR the system out of the crisis won’t work either – holding a few public hearings or creating a citizen’s advisory committee isn’t going to work.  Business as usual is unacceptable.

Crystal Bonvillian of The Huntsville Times wrote “School closures, layoffs likely solutions to school debt”:

Deep in debt, the Huntsville school system must make immediate changes in the way it spends money. And that could mean closing as many as 10 more neighborhood schools this summer, as well as laying off hundreds more teachers and support workers in coming months.

“If we don’t do something now, someone will have to put a sign out on the front lawn that says ‘Bankrupt,’” said Dr. Craig Pouncey, deputy state superintendent of education.

…school board member David Blair told the audience that closing schools and rezoning the school district should be the next step as the school system struggles to work its way out of $19.5 million in debt.

BTW I applaud David Blair for talking to the press on record – unfortunately, he takes some heat because of that (you don’t stand up, you don’t get shot).

City leaders know that this crisis is having an impact on local business – for example, think of the realtors trying to sell houses.  Right now, a realtor doesn’t know in which school district a house might be rezoned.  Madison City and Madison County may look pretty good by comparison to home buyers.

As difficult as this period will be, I think that the school system has a chance to emerge stronger.  It will certainly be leaner (but I don’t have much confidence yet that the layoffs will keep good teachers and remove underperforming teachers).  The City should began the process of getting out from under the Federal Desegregation order – that and No Child Left Behind limit effective and efficient decision-making.

Let’s hope that citizens will be more aware and engaged in the school system – note that I don’t limit this to parents – the school system for too long has ignored the community as a whole (and been ignored back).  As was shown with the HHA actions, just letting government hum along by itself will guarantee problems.

***

“Board shelves proposed school uniform policy”

Parents in attendance were against school uniforms, despite a poll conducted last summer that indicated 55 percent of those asked were in favor of a uniform policy.

Regardless of the (flawed) poll, school uniforms are a bad idea – they do not improve student performance (see “Brunsma”).  Uniforms are a feel good solution that don’t work.

The Defining Moment

“The Defining Moment” is how Dr. Craig Pouncey, Deputy State Superintendent of Education for Admistrative and Financial Services, defined his presentation at the Huntsville Schools Board of Education meeting tonight.

This may be a shock, but the State is considering administering the Huntsville City School System.  Our school system’s finances are that bad – and much worse than we’ve been told.   There may be time later to determine how the schools got into this situation and to whom the blame is assigned, but the City schools have about a month to develop a plan to meet State financial requirements, or else the State will impose a plan.

To give you an idea of how important this meeting was to area leaders, Mayor Tommy Battle, City Councilman Will Culver, State BOE representative Mary Jane Caylor / Mary Scott Hunter, and Madison County Commissioner Faye Dyer attended the meeting.  Each offered their support in addressing the crisis. 

The Huntsville Times  reporter Challen Stephens attended – he has written some great articles lately about the mismanagement of the school system.  Thankfully, The Times is fully engaged (and maybe a little riled up) on this issue.

Here are some highlights from Dr. Pouncey’s presentation:  we need to “reassure the public” that this a problem that will be overcome, the system is in “troubled waters”, but there is “a path to regain financial stability”.  “We’ve got to get the house in order”.

“If this Board can’t, the State Board can”. 

Pouncey said there is a “Myth” (that used to be perpetuated by Huntsville school leaders until tonight) that equity funding sent local match tax dollars to other school systems, but the “Fact” is that local taxes collected stay in Huntsville.  Actually, the “wealth factor” (based on property value) that the State uses to “equalize systems across [the] State” supports local leaders contention that Huntsville gets soaked, but we’ll set that aside.

Pouncey said that the State has been “reviewing reports” since 1995 and that the Huntsville City Schools Superintendent / Board of Education “should have seen it coming”.

Pouncey said that the school system is supporting a system funded (personnel / school facilities / utility bills / buses) for 33,000 students (capacity), but there are only 22,000 students.

Pouncey cited the School Fiscal Accountability Act (Code of Alabama Section 16-13a) which sets a “minimum reserve” and said that Huntsville has been operating without the reserve since 1995 - Huntsville right now requires a $36 million minimum reserve (we’re already in the hole $20 million – the school budget is about $154 million this year – it’s that bad).  Pouncey said the Huntsville Schools must “resize”.

Pouncey said that “Going Forward”, the State minimum reserve balance cannot be State money (it is up to us).  The City School budget is funded by the State which provides $110 million, the local match of $19 million, and the Feds $24 million.

Pouncey said the City must take “quick actions” to reduce the $15 million “discrepancy in what is being spent”.  The City must develop a “Comprehensive Facility Consolidation Plan” to reduce the overcapacity for 33,630 students to the 22,451 students enrolled (that means closing schools).

Pouncey said (to applause) that “there’s nothing more valuable than a quality teacher”, even as he was saying that teachers must make do without “stuff”.

Pouncey said that the bus system, which costs $3.5 million in State funds plus another $4.1 million in local funds, costs about a million dollars more than it should – he recommended running the bus system in-house rather than through a contractor.  The bus routes don’t have enough kids per bus and there are too many routes.

Pouncey’s “Recovery Efforts” have “got to be dealt with within the month”:

- salary schedule far exceeds State rate of reimbursement (we pay teachers too much)
- “willingness to transfer staff based on shifts in enrollment”
- “understanding that priorities must be established and the Board can no longer attempt to provide everything for everyone”
- “understanding that current financial problems will have to be resolved based on local capabilities and factors” (no State bailout)
- “timeliness for proper actions will be critical in going forward”
- “coordinated effort in reviewing, on a monthly basis, all Budgeted Expenditures vs. Actual Expenditures
- “establishing an immediate partnership between BOE, SDE, and City leaders.  This will be essential to your success”.

‘We’re past making people happy’.

The “State is committed to getting through this as fast as we can”.

***

Mayor Tommy Battle seemed stunned to see this information presented so bluntly (though I have to think he had already seen it), but he rose to say that “this is a community situation” and told the School Board that “your actions over the next several months will define the City”.

 Madison County Commissioner Faye Dyer reminded the Board that she made presentations about the shifts in population and empty school seats 3 years ago (which is true) and advised them to “do the tough thing, do the right thing”.

Soon-to-be State Board of Education member Mary Scott Hunter said that “there are two things that will destroy an organization: 1) not knowing the ground truth and 2) lack of leadership”.  “This is an operational problem”.

Former Huntsville Board of Education member Ed Starnes (who is a superb and innovative watercolor artist) related that in his first term the schools faced a financial crisis, and that after trying to raise taxes – and failing – the schools fired 480 people.  Starnes said that the process, while painful, went smoothly because they “let the public know in advance”.  I don’t think we’ll get that courtesy.

***

Crystal Bonvillian of the Huntsville Times wrote “Lesson on school debt for board tonight”:

Board member David Blair said Pouncey’s presentation is expected to focus on that debt and how the system got there… The discussion will undoubtedly be a mix of the negative and the positive, Blair said.

“He’s going to stress the reasons we are in a deficit, which I think may be more negative than people anticipate,” Blair said. “But there will be positive in that the board recognizes it and, with this current budget and the cuts that we’ve made, we’re moving in the right direction.”

Jennie Robinson said she hopes the meeting with Pouncey leads to more transparency about the school system’s finances.

“I want to find out where we are relative to other school systems,” Robinson said.

Blair and Robinson are also planning to ask for revisions to the system’s reduction in force (RIF) policy, which is designed to reduce the system’s work force in times of budgetary crisis, program changes or decreases in enrollment… Blair said he would like to see a revised RIF policy that is more performance-based than the current policy. The way the current policy is worded, the first teachers to be cut are those classified as nontenured, or probationary, employees.

“It’s clear that the policy didn’t allow (the board) to make the best decisions with the last RIF,” Blair said. “Revisions could allow us to keep more of our best and brightest.”

Robinson agreed.

“I was assured (last year) that we would look at factors other than tenure, and that’s not what happened,” Robinson said. “Decisions were made that, in my opinion, were not in the best interest of the children. We need a policy that will work with us, not against us.”

That wasn’t the first time that Robinson was “assured” of something that didn’t happen.  Last year she was assured that Dr. Moore wasn’t lying to the School Board about the C.J. Grisham case (a parent who was harassed by school officials after he spoke up at a PTA meeting).  If I were a school board member I would be so sick of the current administration that I would be tempted to fire every administrator and staffer hired by Dr. Moore just to give the next Superintendent a fresh start.  We’re about to go through a period of chaos anyway, so now is a good time.

I’ll post an update with The Times report of the meeting when available.

*** UPDATE ***

Crystal Bonvillian of The Huntsville Times wrote “Pouncey: Immediate action needed to solve schools’ deficit”:

To fix the system’s problems and comply with state law immediately would take $36 million, Pouncey said.

“36 million dollars means some expedited decisions will have to be made on how to resize this school district,” Pouncey said. “There is no lifeline coming from Montgomery. We’ve got to make some changes.”

*** ANOTHER UPDATE ***

Dr. Pouncey made his “The Defining Moment” presentation to the Chamber of Commerce.  Crystal Bonvillian of The Huntsville Times was there and wrote “School closings likely as system struggles with debt”:

…Pouncey reiterated the message he delivered to school board members at their work session Thursday night, saying that immediate action needs to be taken to save the school system.

“If we don’t do something now, someone will have to put a sign out on the front lawn that says “Bankrupt,” Pouncey said.

Clear thinking from my School Board member:

David Blair said closing schools and rezoning the school district should be the next step in overcoming the financial crisis the system is in.

***

The useless school uniform policy got tabled – let’s hope for good – we need effective education policies, not pretend feel-good dress up policies.