Fifth Consent Order Reports
Filed November 15th, 2019
Annually, the District is required to file a report containing information regarding the District’s implementation of the Consent Order and the Green factors applicable to the District’s desegregation lawsuit. The District’s Fifth Consent Order Report was timely filed with the Court on November 15, 2019. Nearly all of the reports filed with the Court contain data from the preceding school year. As such, the date range for the data in most of this year’s reports is July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019.
As it has done in the past, the District filed a Notice of Filing which is designed to help the Court, and the citizens of Huntsville, better understand the Fifth Consent Order Report. The Notice of Filing operates as a helpful guide for understanding each individual report. A PDF version of the Notice of Filing can be found below. Before reviewing the individual reports, it is recommended that members of the community review the Notice of Filing.
The District’s fourth year of implementation went well. After four years of implementation, the District has developed effective and efficient processes for ensuring full and faithful implementation of the Consent Order. However, as with prior years, there were noteworthy changes that occurred during the 2018-19 school year. The major changes are discussed below:
- As noted in last year’s report, Christie Finley was appointed as the District’s Superintendent in August of 2018 after serving in an interim capacity during the summer of 2018. The 2018-19 school year was Christie Finley’s first full year serving as the Superintendent of the Huntsville City Board of Education.
- On April 19, 2018, the Board approved Apple Bus Company’s (“Apple”) bid to serve as the District’s transportation provider. Apple replaced Durham School Services which had served as the District’s transportation provider since the District began implementing the Consent Order. The 2018-19 school year was Apple’s first year serving as the District’s transportation provider.
- On April 30, 2019, the Court approved the District’s Unopposed Motion to Modify Student Assignment. This Motion sought permission to alter the grades served by the Board’s six Pre-Kindergarten through Eighth Grade schools (“P-8 Schools”). (Doc. 644). The Order approved the District’s proposal to split the six P-8 Schools into separate elementary and middle schools, beginning in the 2019-20 academic year. (Doc. 644, pp. 5-6). As per the District’s Motion, starting with next year’s report, the Board will report data for the six new elementary schools, six new middle schools, and campus-wide for grades Pre-Kindergarten through Eighth Grade.
- On May 24, 2019, Pam Hill, the elected Board of Education member representing District 5, resigned from her position. On July 9, 2019, after an appointment by the Huntsville City Council, Carlos Mathews was sworn in as Mrs. Hill’s replacement. Mr. Mathews will serve out the remainder of Mrs. Hill’s term, which ends in October of 2020.
- As a reminder to the Court, Governor Kay Ivey announced on January 9, 2018, that the new state magnet school, the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering (“ASCTE”), would be located in Huntsville, Alabama. In June of 2019, Matt Massey, former Superintendent of the Madison County Board of Education, was appointed as the first President of ASCTE. ASCTE is scheduled to begin classes in August of 2020. According to its website, ASCTE will be located on Oakwood University’s campus until a permanent facility is constructed. In its first year of operation, ASCTE will only serve 9th Grade students. ASCTE plans to add one grade level each year until it becomes a full 9th through 12th grade high school. The ASCTE website also notes that ASCTE plans to begin accepting student applications in January of 2020, and it is currently recruiting employees and accepting job applications.
- At the August 28, 2019, status conference, counsel for the District explained to the Court that he had been made aware that the Huntsville Housing Authority (“HHA”) planned to close certain public housing communities in Huntsville. Since that time, the District has learned the following:
- The HHA plans to have all relocations associated with the Sparkman Homes demolition completed by January of 2020. This demolition will primarily affect students attending Morris Elementary and Morris Middle schools.
- The HHA has no plans to demolish any of the public housing units located within the Searcy Homes public housing community. Most of the students residing in Searcy Homes attend Blossomwood Elementary School.
- The City of Huntsville (“City”) and the HHA received a three-year Choice Neighborhoods planning grant for the public housing community known as Butler Terrace. For the next three years, the City and HHA will be working to develop a plan for Butler Terrace as part of the Choice Neighborhood’s grant. The plan will be submitted to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”). No changes contemplated by the plan will begin for at least three years.
- At this time, it is the District’s understanding that HHA plans to demolish a part of Butler Terrace known as the Butler Terrace Addition due to the poor condition of the building. Because of the length of time it takes to obtain HUD’s approval of a public housing demolition, the District does not expect any students to be relocated by this demolition until the 2021-2022 school year. The District is still investigating the impact that this potential demolition may have on its current student assignment plan.
A. Financial Challenges
The biggest challenge facing the District during year four of implementation was recovering from accounting errors that led to the erroneous posting of approximately $5.5 million in revenue. In other words, the accounting error made it appear that the Board had more money than it actually had. Because of the accounting error and other related issues, the District fell below the state mandated one-month’s operating reserve at the start of the 2018-19 school year.
In December of 2018, the Board’s then Chief School Financial Officer (“CSFO”), Bob Hagood, resigned. On February 14, 2019, the Board selected Tina Hancock as its new CSFO. Superintendent Finley directed Ms. Hancock to focus on cutting “stuff” that did not impact the classroom, instead of staff.
Effective October 11, 2019, Tina Hancock resigned as the District’s CSFO to take a position in city government outside Huntsville. The Board appointed James Brumley, the former CSFO for the Colbert County Board of Education in Alabama and current Director of Finance for the District, as the Interim CSFO. The District is currently taking applications for a permanent CSFO.
At the November 7, 2019 Board work session, Mr. Brumley announced that the Board had $23,525,601 in reserve. A one-month reserve for the District is $17,994,101. In other words, the District had 1.31 months operating budget in reserve. In less than a year, the Superintendent, working with her leadership team, has righted the District’s financial issues and has achieved the state mandated one-month’s operating fund in reserve. Going forward, the Board expects its financials to continue to trend in a positive direction.
B. Jemison High School Principal
On June 7, 2018, the Board selected Dr. Rachael McDaniel to be the Principal of Jemison High School because of her experience at underperforming schools and her commitment to building positive relationships with students and families at Jemison. Dr. McDaniel served as Principal at Jemison High School for the 2018-19 school year. Unfortunately, Dr. McDaniel’s circumstances changed, and she chose to pursue another opportunity closer to her family. On May 14, 2019, the Board accepted Dr. McDaniel’s resignation. Importantly, the District’s leadership team remained committed to Dr. McDaniel until her decision to leave Jemison High School.
On June 6, 2019, the Board selected Dr. Demetris Harris-Leverette to serve as the new Principal of Jemison High School. The Board believes Dr. Harris-Leverette is the right person for Jemison High School. While Jemison High School has had repeated turnover at the Principal position, the Board views Dr. Harris-Leverette as the long-term solution for Jemison. Dr. Harris-Leverette was selected because of her commitment to the community, passion for education, and previous experience as an Assistant Principal at Jemison.
Overall, the fourth year of implementation was a success story for the District. This was due in large part to the District’s creation and implementation of a data-driven Strategic Plan. The Superintendent provided an overview of the Strategic Plan in her statement to the Court during the August 28, 2019, status conference.
The District is already seeing the benefits of its data-driven plan. For example, the District saw major improvements on its most recent state report card grades. As a reminder to the Court, each year the Alabama State Department of Education releases A through F grades for each school in the state. The grade is determined using indicators such as student achievement, student academic growth, graduation rates, college and career readiness, and chronic absenteeism. The most recent report card scores are based on data from the 2018-19 school year.
The District improved its overall grade from a C (77) to a B (82). The District had 15 schools improve by at least one letter grade. Overall, 33 of the District’s 37 schools saw an increase in its raw score. Most importantly, the District only had one school receive an F (Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School). For comparison, the District had four schools receive an F last year and 12 schools just two years ago.
II.D.8.a: A report containing the following information for each application requesting a transfer effective for that school year: race; grade level; home/zoned school; school(s) to which transfer sought; each type of transfer requested; the outcome (including, for each transfer granted, identification of the school to which the transfer was approved); and the basis for the denial, if any. II.D.8.b.1: Transfer wait list information maintained pursuant to Section II.D.2.b.12., as of the expiration date of the wait list. The District may report this information separately or as part of the Excel spreadsheet described in Section II.D.8.a.
II.D.8.b.2: Results of M-to-M surveys conducted pursuant to Section II.D.6.b.
II.D.8.b.3: District marketing efforts regarding the M-to-M program, including examples of marketing materials.
II. F. 1: For each magnet program, student applicant data for the previous school year that includes: the number of applicants, disaggregated by race; the number of students accepted, disaggregated by race; the number of students who are not accepted, disaggregated by race (including reason(s) for a student not being accepted); the number of students enrolled, disaggregated by race; and the number of students who withdrew or transferred out of the magnet program, disaggregated by race, (including the reason(s), to the extent available, for the withdrawal or transfer).
II.F.2: A report of magnet marketing and recruitment efforts taken for the previous school year, including samples of brochures and advertisements, and where appropriate, the date and location of the marketing and recruitment.
II.F.3: A report of the magnet courses offered at each magnet school/program for the current school year.
II.F.4: The District’s efforts to review and respond to duplication of magnet courses in the District since the District’s previous annual report.
II.F.5: A report that includes for each student enrolled in a dual enrollment course: school attended; the magnet program attended, if any; grade; the name of each dual enrollment course; and the institution of higher education affiliated with each dual enrollment course.
III.M.1.a: A list of all AP and IB diploma courses taught in each high school for the current school year and the enrollment in each AP or IB Diploma course in each high school for the current school year, disaggregated by race.
III.M.1.b: Academic proficiency of students in English and Math in the District and by school, as measured by the State assessments for the previous school year, disaggregated by race.
III.M.1.c: A list of teachers hired or assigned by each high school to teach an AP or IB Diploma course in the current school year, the course(s) taught by each teacher, the number of sections taught by each teacher, and the credentials of each teacher.
III.M.1.d: A report for each school that includes the employee number of each teacher, his or her race, professional degrees, certifications, years of experience (less than 3 years and more than 3 years) and course or courses taught.
III.M.1.e: A list of professional development activities required by Section III conducted in the previous year, including the date, duration, subject matter, presenter, and number of individuals in attendance by group (e.g., principals, teachers, etc.).
III.M.1.f: A list of parent/guardian outreach activities conducted in the previous school year, including the date, duration, and approximate number of individuals in attendance, and estimate of participation levels by race.
III.M.1.g: A list of student support services offered in the previous school year pursuant to Section III.H.
III.M.1.h: A report for the previous school year of the results of the survey required by Section III.I.7. and action steps taken based on the survey results.
III.M.2: The District will provide the data reviewed and the plans developed pursuant to Section III.M. to the United States. The District will provide a summary of the data reviewed and the plans developed pursuant to Section III.M. to the Court.
IV.H.1: A list of extracurricular activities offered in the District, by school and core activity category where applicable.
IV.H.2: School participation rates and targets in the Elementary School Core Activity and the Middle/Junior High School Core Activities and any actions taken by the District to support schools in meeting participation targets.
IV.H.3: A description of measures taken by the District to make students aware of academic clubs and related extracurricular opportunities.
V.D.1: A list of the members of each committee involved in the recruitment, hiring, assignment, retention, or promotion of administrators, faculty, and certified staff. The list will include: name of committee; each committee member's name; his or her race; position (title and location) and date(s) on which he or she served on the committee.
V.D.2: Documentation of any exigent circumstances pursuant to Section V.A.1.
V.D.3: The total number of certified administrators, by race and position, in the District’s central office.
V.D.4: The total number and percentage of teachers and administrators, by race and by position, in each school facility operated in the District. For reporting purposes, principals will be identified separately from assistant principals.
V.D.5: A list of each certified staff member, such as administrators and faculty, transferred, including: his or her name; race; position; self-reported years of experience; school to which he or she was previously assigned; school to which he or she was transferred; effective date of the transfer; indication of whether the transfer was requested by the certified staff member or initiated by the District or both; and the reason(s) for the transfer.
V.D.6: A description of the measures the District is taking to ensure the equitable selection of Black principals pursuant to Section V.A.2.
V.D.7: A list of all recruiting/job fairs in which the District participated, including the date and location of each such fair.
V.D.8: A list of each central office certified administrator hired, including the administrator’s name, race, position, date of hire, and starting salary (including step and grade).
V.D.9: A list of each central office certified administrator promoted, including the administrator’s name, race, prior position and salary, and new position and salary.
V.D.10: A list of each certified staff member, such as administrators and faculty, who received incentive pay, including his or her name, race, position (title and location), salary grade and step, and incentive amount.
V.D.11: A list of certified staff members, such as administrators and faculty, who were demoted, suspended, or dismissed/terminated, including each person’s name, race, position/title, and date of demotion, suspension, or dismissal/termination.
V.D.12: A list containing information about each candidate submitted to a school for consideration to fill a vacant position, including: candidate’s name; his or her race; an indication of whether he or she was screened at the District level; his or her certification(s), if any; his or her self-reported total years of experience; school and vacant certified position for which his or her name was submitted; date on which that submission occurred; candidate(s) selected by the principal to fill the vacant certified position; and candidate(s) placed in the position.
V.D.13: A list of all candidates nominated for the TOSA program, or any similar program, and for each eligible candidate: candidate’s name; his or her race; school to which he or she was assigned; grade level(s) and/or course(s) he or she taught; individual who nominated him or her; an indication whether he or she accepted any invitation to interview; members of his or her interview committee; and an indication whether he or she was selected to participate in the TOSA program or any similar program.
VI.C: The District’s progress on the construction of Morris Pre-K-8 School, Jemison High School, McNair Junior High School, Grissom High School, Whitesburg Pre-K-8 School, Hereford Elementary School, and the district's progress on the renovation of AAA and Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School.
- The District’s progress towards removing remaining portable classrooms.
- Implementation of the District’s Playground plan.
- Implementation of the District's SMALLab Plans.
VII.I.1: The District’s Student Code of Conduct implemented after the effective date of this Consent Order or after the previous annual report.
VII.I.2: A list of professional development activities required by Section VII, including the date, duration, subject matter, presenter and number of individuals in attendance by group (e.g., principals, teachers).
VII.I.3: The information provided to parents/guardians pursuant to Section VII.
VII.I.4: For each school, the total number and percentage of students receiving a disciplinary referral, disaggregated by race, in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension, expulsion, school referrals to law enforcement and alternative school placement and plans/strategies developed and implemented as a result of the District’s review in Section VII.G.
X.A: The District will provide the United States a copy of its student enrollment database electronically in Microsoft Excel or similar format and will file with the Court a report of its student enrollment, disaggregated by school and race.
X.G: The District will provide the United States and the Court with its annual budget and a list of District expenditures related to the implementation of the Consent Order for the previous school year.