Some good news: Wardynski on consolidating middle schools

Note: if you read this last night, it had a different title. Gone now is the phrase “and a blank page.” I thought that the HCS link to the Facility Utilization Study was broken since I only got a blank page, but problem is with how Firefox is handling .pdf files these days. Alas, it is still there.

You may have missed this in all the heads-will-roll news from the HCS this week, and I think only one source reported it. On August 16, 2011, reporter Stephanie Bracken posted “Dr. Wardynski’s Thoughts On School Closings & Consolidations” on waaytv.com. Here’s the good news:

The report also recommends combining three middle schools [sic] Wardynski says no way.

“The report” is of course that abomination The Facility Utilization Study, an insult to the intelligence of the Huntsville community, prepared at the cost of $70,000 (plus $3000 to his boss to do exactly nothing) by Steve Salmon of Education Planners.

Now, this is interesting. I tried to supply you with a link to the Study, but the link [http://www.hsv.k12.al.us/announce/Consolidation_11-12/Demographer_Pres_6-2-11.pdf] opens a blank page — how very appropriate. How I hope this is deliberate, for then I think I can say that I am delivering to you not only good news, but great news. Just a Firefox issue. Crud.

OK, back to the middle school issue. (I saved a copy of the report on my hard drive).This is what the pseudo-demographer recommended:

MS (1a) Combine Davis Hills, Ed White, and Westlawn Middle Schools into a New Middle School Program Housed at the Current Butler High School Facility or,
MS (1b) Close Davis Hills Middle and move students to Ed White and Chapman
MS (2a) Close Whitesburg Middle and move students to Mt. Gap and Challenger or
MS (2b) Close Mt. Gap Middle and move students to Whitesburg and Challenger

I guess it’s the first recommendation that Wardynski was specifically addressing. Common sense prevails.

In all the posting I did on the Study, I didn’t even bother mentioning the recommendation to combine 3 middle schools so stupid did it seem to me. Preposterous, absurd, irrational: you don’t have to have taught or otherwise worked with adolescents in grades 6-8, or to have raised one, to know that at no other stage are humans more vulnerable, that these are the grades where you lose kids forever, etc., etc., and the last thing you want is a huge population under one crumbling roof. If you ever were an adolescent, you’ll understand.

Interestingly, I don’t remember hearing any of the Board members say “no way.” They just threw more money at Salmon’s boss, James Wilson.

As for the other recommendations concerning middle schools, I don’t think Wardynski is going blindly along with those, either:

Dr. Casey Wardynski says when and if he considers closing schools he’ll look at performance before capacity.

“I close an effective school and now students go to a school where they need more tutoring and more after school programs. There’s going to be more drop outs. There’s going to be more drop out reduction programs, more truancy, lower revenue that’s all going to come into the picture,” said Dr. Casey Wardynski.

He says when closing a school transportation costs will go up, students may leave the system and communities will change.

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