Huntsville City Schools Debacle 2011, Part 4: Get to Work, Wilson, or Get Out of Town

First, to follow up on  private school enrollment, have a look  at Geek Palavar’s post, The Great Huntsville City Schools Speeding Spree. Unlike $70,000-contract demographer Steve Salmon and his $500-a-day sidekick James Wilson, this blogger prepared (for free!) a graph comparing two private schools’ growth to the HCS over a 5-year period, which reveals that “Randolph and Westminster Christian Academy have seen growth over this time of 10% and 2.5% respectively, while HCS shows a growth rate of only 0.8%.”

I’ve been hunting for the rationale for the hiring of Salmon and Wilson’s company, Education Planners, on the City of Huntsville and HCS sites without success. Apparently, no one is willing to state what Salmon was contracted to do. Again, this issue has been raised and remains unaddressed. See again Geek Palavar’s blog, especially Q&A: Huntsville City School Closing Meeting #3 Summary on the June 14 community meeting. Consider this exchange:

Q: What were the specific guidelines given to the demographer concerning the approach he should take in conducting his study?

A: Wilson stated, “As I am not the demographer, I cannot answer that question.” Richardson added that the demographer was hired before he was, so he too is unable to answer this question. He went on to claim that he “believed the board would have further opportunities for public input after this process were completed.”

Additionally, Richardson is planning to recommend on Thursday that the board extend the contract to Dr. Salmon and Dr. Wilson so that they may continue to collect data to share with the board. This statement was greeted with groans from the crowd.

Thursday night, June 16, the Board voted to pay Wilson $500 a day to attend its meetings. Now that he is pocketing some money directly (Wilson is CEO of Education Planners, by the way, and so wasn’t just sitting in for Salmon out of the goodness of his heart), maybe, just maybe, he could find out what his company was contracted to do.

It seemed clear to me from Dr. Ed Richardson’s remarks Thursday night that the top — the only — priority for the HCS is to get out of its $20 million hole, and so it follows that the purpose, only and solely, of this demographic so-called study is to show what can be done right now, to save money.

So show me the money, Demography Duo. Show me how your recommendations will save the HCS money. Show me how much they will save. Show me at least the budgetary categories that will be positively impacted.

There isn’t a dollar sign in the entire 62-page mess.

Folks, we’ve got it backwards. We shouldn’t be explaining to these people why they should not be closing our schools and moving our programs. The Demography Duo should be proving the validity of its recommendations to us.

Get to work, Wilson, or get out of town


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