The state board of education had another marathon session today (June 8). This one began at 10 a.m., paused for a 30-minuite lunch break and the work session ended after 5 p.m.
One significant development was the unanimous vote for a resolution offered by Stephanie Bell of Montgomery calling for a hiring freeze for the time being in regards to the intervention into the Montgomery school system by the state department.
Money has been a bone of contention for the state board since this takeover began several months ago. They have repeatedly asked state superintendent Mike Sentance about how the intervention is being funded–and seldom gotten satisfactory answers.
There is the question of a $536,000 contract to a Massachusetts consulting firm Sentance was once involved with. This was to evaluate the 27 weakest schools in the Montgomery system. And as pointed out here, something about this has never passed the smell test. Then there is a no-bid contract for $762,000 to a brand new company, Northbay Strategies, to look at financial info.
Jermall Wright was hired from the Philadelphia, PA school system to be part of this process. His annual salary is $168,621.80. Reggie Eggleston was brought in from the Mobile County system to head the Montgomery project with an annual salary of $164,419.20. And plans are to hire a chief of staff for Eggleston at upwards of $130,000 a year.
In addition, the state decided to give all 27 principals of the weak schools a 10 percent annual raise. (While the other 29 principals were not included.) And at a board work session in late May, it was disclosed that the consulting firm, Class Measures, will conduct a one-week training this summer in Montgomery at a cost of $210,000.
With numbers like this flying around, it is hardly a surprise that the board is hesitant to keep writing blank checks. After all, Montgomery is just one of 137 school systems in Alabama. Many of them struggling just like Montgomery is. And wondering why they are not being lavished with extra resources.