Huntsville City Schools 2011 Debacle, Part 1. What $70,000 + Buys These Days

I’m going to assume that if you are reading this you already know that the Huntsville [AL] City School System has managed to go $20 million into the red. What to do? Fire teachers and aides. Obviously. And hire some consultants. Of course.

The City of Huntsville came up with $100,000 for consultants. One of these, Steve Salmon, has been deemed a demographer. Salmon works for Education Planners, Marietta, Georgia. He was an assistant superintendent before entering the consulting racket. Education Planners provides four examples of their work on their webpage. Frankly, I’m not impressed. Salmon’s colleague, James Wilson, would have you believe, based on his comments at a June 16, 2011, public meeting that Salmon has been conducting demographic surveys since 1975.

In any event, Salmon was paid $70,000 to conduct a Facility Utilization Study.He hasn’t attended the community meetings to discuss his results, but Wilson has been sitting in his place. Now the School Board has decided to pay Wilson $500 a day  to sit in for Salmon at these meetings. These meetings last 2 hours.

Dear Reader, this is one sloppily prepared Facility Utilization Study.

Please click over to the HCS site and open it in another window so we can read it together.

  • Page 2: “Agenda.” Is this what — inadequately –takes the place of a table of contents?
  • Page 4: Irrelevant cut-and-pasted graphic
  • Page 5: Irrelevant cut-and-pasted graphic
  • Page 6: Largely irrelevant cut-and-pasted graphic
  • Page 7: Irrelevant cut-and-pasted graphic
  • Page 8: Irrelevant cut-and-pasted graphic
  • Page 9: Irrelevant cut-and-pasted graphic
  • Page 10: Irrelevant cut-and-pasted graphic
  • Page 11: City of Huntsville New Annexations Map. This is a public domain map not prepared by The Demographer but taken from this site: Huntsville The Star of Alabama Geographic Information Systems. Taxpayers already paid once for this map.
  • Page 12: Cut-and-pasted page from Huntsville Development Review March 2011.
  • Page 13:  Cut-and-pasted contents page from Huntsville Development Review March 2011. Why include only the table of contents?
  • Page 14 map is lifted from here.
  • Pages 15, 16, 17: Possibly original.
  • Page 18: An outdated version of the chart titled “Demographic Summary” on the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce site.
  • Page 19: Possibly original.
  • Page 20: Another not-quite-a-contents page
  • Page 21: Another cut-and-paste job
  • Pages 22, 23, 24, 25: Enrollment history of City Schools — provided by the City Schools
  • Page 26: Live Births Based on the Year Students Enter 1st Grade. What??? Isn’t this title backwards? And since the cut-off date for entering first grade is September 1, how can a graph using January 1 to December 31 data be accurate? Looks real fine — until you think about it.
  • Page 27: Now our live births six years later are charted and divided by Huntsville City, Madison City, and Madison County schools.
  • Page 28: Now we are back to a table, and we find that, for example, that 3,821 live births were recorded in 1999 and in SY05/06 there were 1737 kids in K and 1829 in 1st grade, presumably throughout the Huntsville Metro area. What relevance does this have for the Huntsville City Schools? Because live birth data is 1/1/ to 12/31, we can’t even really say that we started out with 3821 kids and can account for 3566, meaning that  255 kids moved away, died, are being home schooled, or are in private schools. We can’t really say anything useful at all.

We’re halfway through our $70,000 report. But I think I’ll leave you waiting for the rest, which will include internal inconsistencies, and much, much more!
To be continued….

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1 thought on “Huntsville City Schools 2011 Debacle, Part 1. What $70,000 + Buys These Days

  1. Pingback: The Rule of Gold Shouldn't Outweigh the Golden Rule | Geek Palaver

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