As we reported previously, state school superintendent Mike Sentance’s decision to give 10 percent raises to principals of low-performing schools in the Montgomery County system has drawn fire from across Alabama.
The news also got the attention of Alabama Political Reporter writer Josh Moon, a longtime reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser. Some excerpts:
“…the raises and extensions surprised those close to state superintendent Michael Sentance and has angered several of his supporters, including many state lawmakers.
“This basically kills any improvement plan you could have,” a source told APR. “You can’t overhaul the leadership at any school. There’s no school consolidation now. There’s nothing that can be done. It’s basically a waste of time and money.”
MPS board members have expressed frustration with Sentance over the handling of the process and attempted to speak with him on numerous occasions over the last few weeks. Board member Mary Briers has been a regular on talk radio shows in Montgomery, expressing her disapproval with a takeover that was billed as a collaboration with locals, but in her view, has been anything but.
“This was not what I signed on for, I can tell you that,” Briers said last month.
Sentance’s decision to up the pay for some principals is being viewed by many as a sort of olive branch to the local leaders and to the Montgomery public school community — a way to buy support for a process that might be difficult at times. In addition to Briers, a group of local and influential pastors has been very vocal in their opposition to the takeover.
“(MPS board members) played the race card and he’s bending over backwards now to make them happy for some reason,” a source said. “He’s lost everyone on his side by doing this, I can tell you that much.”
I have spoken to Montgomery County school board members, state school board members, Montgomery County principals who are not getting raises and educators across the state in the last few days. In a word, they call this decision by Sentance BIZARRE.
A state board member expressed their concern about this move in an email to Sentance and was basically told in response that their opinion does not matter since Sentance makes all the decisions in an intervention.
In addition to the cost of these raises, Sentance has already spent more than $1.2 million on two contracts pertaining to the Montgomery take over.