Huntsville City Schools Debacle 2011, Part 5: That $70,000+ Report cont’d

Back to that wretched $70,000 Facility Utilization Study by Steve Salmon of Education Planners, now being presented by its CEO James Wilson for $500-a-day. I left off on page 34.

Open a window to the Huntsville City Schools site, and let the stench waft in. Ready?

  • Page 35: High School Zones. We taxpayers already paid the City for this document. Here it is.
  • Page 36. Middle School Zones. Same story.
  • Page 37. Elementary School Zones. Duh.
  • Pages 38, 39, 40: Same three maps but with figures added: 2005-06 and 2010-11 enrollments,  2015-16 and 2019-20 projected enrollments, and building capacities.

OK, problems:

  1. I presume that the 2005-06 and 2010-11 enrollments, and building capacities, were supplied by the HCS. But where did the 2015-16 and 2019-20 numbers come from? What assumptions, what data, what margin of error?
  2. More to the point: The demographer was hired not to make 10-year forecasts or even 5-year predictions. He was hired to make recommendations regarding how to save money now. Right? Dr. Richardson was asked Thursday June 16 why the school closings decisions needed to be made so quickly when the new superintendent hasn’t even arrived in town, and his answer was, in essence, that time is money and every year that passes without closures and consolidations means money wasted. Again, we are not talking about long-term planning. The Board and erstwhile Superintendent, after getting us into this mess, are in crisis mode. So why the 5-year and 10-year forecasts?
  • Pages 41 -46: The titles of these tables are deceptive — OK, maybe that’s too strong: sloppy will do. There are 5 tables named for 5 of the 6 high schools in the HCS. But only one line in each table refers to the high school for which the table is named.

At the June 16 meeting, Demographer Wilson explained that what we are really looking at here are “clusters” — that’s the bottom line, that’s what matters.

Really? And here I thought we had been reading a Facility Utilization Study. Folks, a facility is not a cluster and a cluster is not a facility.

So why have the terms been changed? Well, let’s have a look at page 44, “Huntsville High.” Do as Wilson says and think cluster and you find that that cluster can accommodate 2,832 students. In 2010-11 that cluster only had 2,229 kids. So they are in great shape, right?

Now, look at the facility called Huntsville High. Its capacity is 1368 and last year it had 1694 kids. Oh my.

How, exactly, does a little tiny empty desk in an elementary classroom facility miles away alleviate crowding in a high school facility that is more than 20 percent over capacity?

All a matter of interpretation, I guess.


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