Huntsville City Schools, Alabama

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Huntsville City Schools
Huntsville, Alabama
Huntsville City Schools.JPG
District Profile
Superintendent:Casey Wardynski
Enrollment:22,848 students
Graduation rate:77%[1]
Number of schools:40
Budget: $330.1 million
Website:School Home Page
Board of Education
Board president:Laurie McCaulley
Board members:5
Term length:4
Huntsville City Schools is a school district in Alabama that served 22,848 students during the 2013-2014 school year.[2] This district is the seventh-largest school district by enrollment in the state of Alabama.

About the district

Huntsville City Schools is located in Madison County, Alabama
Huntsville City Schools is located in Madison County, Alabama. The county seat of Madison County is Huntsville. Madison County is home to 346,892 residents, according to the United States Census Bureau.[3]


Madison County outperformed the rest of Alabama in terms of higher education achievement in 2013. The United States Census Bureau found that 37.8 percent of Madison County residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 22.3 percent for Alabama as a whole. The median household income in Madison County was $58,242 compared to $43,160 for the state of Alabama. The poverty rate in Madison County was 12.4 percent compared to 18.1 percent for the entire state.[3]

Racial Demographics, 2013[3]
Race Madison County (%) Alabama (%)
White 69.6 70.0
Black or African American 24.5 26.5
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.8 0.7
Asian 2.5 1.2
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.1 0.1
Two or More Races 2.4 1.5
Hispanic or Latino 4.7 4.1

Presidential Voting Pattern, Madison County[4]
Year Republican Vote Democratic Vote
2012 90,884 62,015
2008 86,965 64,117
2004 77,173 52,644
2000 62,151 48,199

Note: Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" percentage, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one- or two-tenths off. Read more about race and ethnicity in the Census here.[5]


The superintendent of Huntsville City Schools is Dr. Casey Wardynski. Appointed to the position in June 2011, he previously served as chief financial officer for Aurora Public Schools in Colorado. He has also been director of the Office of Economic & Manpower Analysis at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and an associate professor of economics. He has a bachelor’s degree from the United States Military Academy, master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University and a doctorate in policy analysis from the Rand Pardee Graduate School.[6]

In October 2014, the school board vote to extend Wardynski's contract through 2017, with annual renewals automatic beginning in 2015.[7] He is paid $175,000 annually. His full contract is available here.

School board

Huntsville City Schools are overseen by a five-member board, all of whom are elected to four-year terms by geographic electoral district. As of November 1, 2010, school board members were paid $15,564 per year, with the board president receiving $18,672 per year. Compensation was adjusted following a 2010 audit that found board members had received $23,343 per year, exceeding the maximum allowed by law. Following the reduction Huntsville school board members still received higher pay than any others in Alabama.[8]

Huntsville City Schools Board of Education
Member District Assumed Office Term Ends
Laurie McCaulley 1 2008 2016
Beth Wilder 2 2014 2018
Elisa Ferrell 3 2014 2018
Walker McGinis 4 2014 2018
Michael Culbreath 5 2012 2016

School board elections

See also: Huntsville City Schools elections (2014)

Members of the Huntsville City Schools Board of Education are elected to four-year terms. Three seats were up in 2014 and two seats will be up for election in 2016.

Terms of office begin the first Monday in October in the year of the election.[9]

Public participation in board meetings

The Huntsville City Schools Board of Education does not maintain a publicly available policy on public testimony during board meetings.


The table below displays the budget for the Huntsville City School District:[10]

Expenditures by Category
School Year Staff Expenses Student Services Operational Expenses Debt Service Other Budget Total
Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget
2012-2013 $128,528,964 47.6% $0 0% $96,691,954 35.8% $2,149,468 0.8% $42,573,451 15.8% $269,943,837
2014-2015 $131,332,488 39.8% $0 0% $75,483,351 22.9% $11,083,988 3.4% $112,287,294 34% $330,187,121
Averages: $129,930,726 43% $0 0% $86,087,652.5 29% $6,616,728 2% $77,430,372.5 26% $300,065,479

Teacher salaries

Huntsville City Schools employed 1,512 K-12 teachers during the 2011-2012 school year.[2]

The following tables detail the 2013-2014 Alabama state minimum salary schedule for classroom teachers:[11]

Nine month contract

Salary structure
Degree level Minimum salary ($) Maximum salary ($)
Non-Degree 36,867 46,917
Bachelor 36,867 46,917
Master 42,395 53,792
6-Year 45,714 57,916
Doctoral 49,032 62,040

Ten month contract

Salary structure
Degree level Minimum salary ($) Maximum salary ($)
Non-Degree 39,043 50,680
Bachelor 39,823 50,680
Master 44,899 58,107
6-Year 48,413 62,562
Doctoral 51,926 67,017

Schools in Huntsville City


Huntsville City Schools served 22,848 students in 40 schools during the 2013–2014 school year. The district has not experienced a significant increase or decrease in enrollment in recent years.[12]

Total enrollment
Year Enrollment Year-to-year change (%)
2004-2005 22,544
2005-2006 22,870 1.4
2006-2007 22,890 0.08
2007-2008 22,799 -0.4
2008-2009 22,919 0.5
2009-2010 23,084 0.7
2010-2011 23,024 -0.2
2011-2012 22,681 -1.5
2012-2013 22,747 0.3
2013-2014 22,848 0.4

District schools

Huntsville City Schools operates 40 schools listed below in alphabetical order:

Academic performance

Starting with the 2013-2014 school year, the Alabama Department of Education replaced the No Child Left Behind Act with Plan 2020, a new way of measuring student achievement in the state. In addition to eliminating the Alabama High School Graduation Exam as the only path to graduation and switching to college and career readiness standards to judge student progress, Plan 2020 set achievement goals meant to close the achievement gap between students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. While the No Child Left Behind Act set the goal of having 100 percent of all students be proficient in math and reading, Plan 2020 set different proficiency goals for students based on subgroups. There are nine subgroups within the plan: American Indian, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, black, white, multi-race, English language learners, poverty and special education. Plan 2020 gave each subgroup an improvement goal for each year from its start in 2013 until 2020. Under the plan, all students will be at the same proficiency level by 2020.[13][14]

As of November 13, 2014, academic performance information was not available through the Alabama Department of Education's website. An April 25, 2014, posting on the department website stated the information would be available soon.[15]


Desegregation dispute

In May 2014, Huntsville City Schools faced the U.S. Department of Justice to debate the racial implications of redrawing school zones. The school rezoning has to be approved by a federal judge because of a desegregation lawsuit dating back to 1963, when the federal government sued to end racial segregation in the system. While the district believed it had complied with desegregation laws, the Department of Justice believed the district operated a dual system, since many schools were almost predominantly white or predominantly African American. Huntsville submitted rezoning plans in February 2014, but the Department of Justice rejected the plans.[16][17]

On June 30, 2014, the case's presiding judge, U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala, ordered both sides enter into mediation to examine all aspects of racial disparities across the school district and create a rezoning plan that both parties can agree on. She said, "the fact that the district integrated the student bodies of many of its schools in the early 1970s does not automatically lead to the conclusion that the district does not currently operate a dual system." Although the schools were integrated in the 1970s, Haikala believes the district has seen a demographic shift since then that has affected school composition. She also believes the Department of Justice's proposed plan might cause risk to the district, such as causing students to leave the public school system for the local private schools. Haikala appointed Chief Magistrate Judge John Ott to oversee the mediation process.[18]

Petition for superintendent resignation

In July 2014, Terri Michal, a self-described education activist, started a petition asking the Huntsville school board to demand Superintendent Casey Wardynski's resignation. Michal says she began the petition to show the board and the superintendent that residents from all over the district disapprove of his policies. Although Michal does not live in Huntsville, she has stayed interested in the school district because of the racial tensions in the district and because she is against corporate education reform. The petition calls for Wardynski's resignation because of his testimony during the desegregation dispute, accusations of disregard for parents, students and citizens and accusations of creating a poor working environment that, Michal says, has resulted in more than 700 employees leaving the district since he arrived in the summer of 2011. School board member Mike Culbreath said that Wardynski and his staff have done a good job with the district's finances, raising students' test scores and improving the schools' graduation rates.[19]

Social media monitoring of students

Documents released in October 2014 showed that Huntsville City Schools paid $157,190 to consulting firm T&W Operations for the work of their employee, Chris McRae, a former FBI agent. Among other duties, McRae was in charge of the district's SAFe (Students Against Fear) program. Through this program the social media accounts of 600 students were investigated, leading to the expulsion of 14 students.[20]

In September 2014, Huntsville schools Superintendent Casey Wardynski said the secret program was started a year and a half earlier following a call from the National Security Agency (NSA) about a student making threats on Facebook. The NSA said they do not deal with local school districts and had no record of such a call. Adding to the lack of clarity surrounding the program, school board members Topper Birney, Laurie McCaulley and Mike Culbreath said they had no knowledge of the program and that the board had not been informed about it, yet board president David Blair said he had been aware of it for some time.[21][22]

Contact information

Huntsville City Schools.JPG
Huntsville City Schools
200 White Street
Huntsville, AL 35801
Phone: 256-428-6800

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. WHNT, "State Report Shows Big Improvement to Huntsville City Graduation Rates," June 12, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 National Center for Education Statistics, "ELSI Table Generator," accessed April 22, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 United States Census Bureau, "Madison County, Alabama," accessed July 9, 2014
  4. Alabama Secretary of State, "Election Information," accessed July 9, 2014
  5. United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014
  6. Huntsville City Schools, "Dr. Casey Wardynski," accessed November 13, 2014
  7., "Huntsville Superintendent Casey Wardynski's contract extended - with automatic renewals starting in 2015 - despite protests," October 16, 2014
  8., "Pay for Huntsville school board exceeded legal limit," February 4, 2011
  9. Huntsville City Board of Education, "Policy Manual (Revised October 17, 2014)," accessed November 13, 2014
  10. Huntsville City Schools, "Fiscal Year 2015," accessed December 11, 2014
  11. Huntsville City Schools, "Classified and Non-Instructional Certified Compensation Plan," October 1, 2013
  12. Alabama State Department of Education, "Enrollment by Ethnicity and Gender (System Level)," accessed November 20, 2014
  13. Tuscaloosa News, "Plan 2020 brings praise, criticism," July 3, 2013
  14. Cullman Times, "Education Revolution: How Plan 2020 Could Reshape Education in Alabama," December 9, 2012
  15. Alabama State Department of Education, "Accountability > All What's New in Accountability​," accessed November 13, 2014
  16., "Live updates on desegregation hearing, day two: Huntsville v. United States," May 23, 2014
  17. Alabama Public Radio, "Judge Orders Mediation in Huntsville Desegregation Suit," accessed July 10, 2014
  18. WHNT 19 News, "Judge orders mediation in Huntsville schools rezoning case; board to meet Wednesday," July 1, 2014
  19., "Petition on calls for Huntsville Superintendent Casey Wardynski's resignation," July 9, 2014
  20., "Huntsville schools paid $157,000 for former FBI agent, social media monitoring led to 14 expulsions," November 1, 2014
  21., "Huntsville schools say call from NSA led to monitoring students online," September 24, 2014
  22., "Who knew what, when? Not all Huntsville school board members knew of student social media surveillance," September 24, 2014