[/box]The board has gotten remarkable efficient at closing schools. No public hearings. No public comments. No public discussion to slow things down. No public questions that might prove difficult to answer.
It would seem that Dr. Wardynski has learned well from the public hearing meetings that happened in June. And the board is so excited to close schools that they “moved to approve” the recommendation with a second (thanks Dr. Robinson and Mr. Blair) without even hearing the recommendation first.
Just call your first ever Saturday board meeting at the last minute, fill the board room with new principals and their friends and families who will support whatever decision you make (they are after all just happy to have a job), make sure the meeting is a “Special Called” meeting (because for whatever reason, special called meetings don’t allow citizen comments), then suddenly you free to do whatever you would like to do without fear that someone might take three minutes (or is it four again) to make you face your actions.
Is our new superintendent so afraid of negative feedback that he intentionally hides from it by orchestrating meetings specifically designed to shield him from even public questions? While I certainly hope this isn’t the case, I have little reason to believe otherwise.
Let’s get something clear: the school board, the employees of the central office, the employees at the schools in our system and, yes, the superintendent all work for us, the public, the citizens. They are our employees, and they have a responsibility to listen to us.
Funny, I remember writing exactly the same thing to Dr. Richardson and Dr. Moore just a few of months ago.
The more things change . . .
I don’t know if the plan to move Providence 6th graders to Williams Middle in a couple of weeks is a good one or a bad one. It may, actually, be the best possible solution. I would like to hear from the parents and teachers of those students affected before making an evaluation, and so should Dr. Wardynski. Overcrowding at Providence is an old problem. There has been ample time to seek out their input.
What I do know is this: making the decision to do this at the board’s first ever Saturday meeting and refusing to allow any public input into this plan is a bad idea.
Even though I did not support Dr. Wardynski for the superintendent position, even though I do not support him making $55,000 above the minimum salary, I still earnestly hope that he is the savior of our schools that Dr. Robinson and many others have painted him to be.
My children are just starting out in the system, and I fully expect them to graduate from Grissom High with honors in 11-13 years. I do not want spend every second Thursday (with the odd Saturday thrown in whenever they want to discuss something difficult) attending Board meetings and then writing about it. I much prefer writing about my kids and dreams.
I would love to never write another posting about the school board ever again.
But the reasons that I started writing about them back in April (wow, it’s only been four months) are still exactly the same.
- The School Board under the direction of the Superintendent is still making decisions without public input.
- The School Board under the direction of the Superintendent is still approving the expansion of the Central Office while cutting out teachers and aides.
- The School Board under the direction of the Superintendent is now actually closing schools rather than merely talking about it.
- The School Board under the direction of the seemingly unaccountable Superintendent is still refusing to put their plans in writing for public review.
- When I told Dr. Richardson, Dr. Moore, Dr. Wilson, and the board members who were present at the second school closing meeting at Grissom High on June 9th that I had lost faith in their leadership, all of the reasons that I listed for why are still unaddressed.
I’m aware that Dr. Wardynski hasn’t been here two weeks yet. I’m not asking for a miracle. But it doesn’t take a miracle to listen to the stakeholders before you make a decision of this magnitude.
I sincerely hope that the approach that Dr. Wardynski and the board took in voting to close Providence Middle School on Saturday, July 17th at 4:00pm, is not going to be their standard operating procedure, but I would be foolish to believe otherwise until they take action to demonstrate that they are now operating differently from the previous ten years.
Please, Dr. Wardynski, Mr. Birney, Mrs. McCaulley, Mr. Blair, Dr. Robinson, and Mrs. Morrison, prove me wrong. I, just like everyone else in this town, want to be able to trust the leadership of our schools.
Only those who have something to hide, hide from the public response to their actions.
Dad, hubby and irritator of students and school boards alike, Russell Winn is committed to ensuring that the Huntsville City Schools provide access to the educational support system for every student. When he's not enforcing grammar rules or arguing the ethical minutia of Kant's deontology, he spends his time loving his kids, reading anything by Stephen King or Christopher Moore, and attempting to speak truth to power on behalf of special needs kids. You may follow his rants at www.geekpalaver.com or on twitter at @russwinn.