published Friday, March 12th, 2010

Race to the Top could bring drastic personnel changes


by Kelli Gauthier

Related article: Chattanooga: Howard alumni speak out in support of alma mater

Audio clip

Jim Scales

Tennessee education officials outlined a host of potential personnel changes in a 250-page promise they made to the federal government to turn around the state's chronically failing schools.

Chattanooga's Howard School of Academics and Technology is one of 13 schools targeted by the state for inclusion in the new state-run "Achievement School District." The district gives authority to state Education Commissioner Tim Webb to remove and replace superintendents, school board members and any person deemed to have contributed to a school's failure.

Hamilton County Board of Education member George Ricks, who represents Howard's district, said he is not too concerned.

  • photo
    Staff photo by Matt Fields-Johnson/Chattanooga Times Free Press Howard School for Academics and Technology is located on Market Street .

"I think we're doing a great job here. I think we'll be all right," he said. "I'm going to be supportive of the school system whether they remove me or keep me. I can't control that."

In January, when state lawmakers passed the First to the Top Act of 2010 -- which includes programs such as the Achievement School District -- they did so mostly to improve the state's chances of winning federal Race to the Top funds. Along with 15 states and the District of Columbia, Tennessee now is a finalist to receive the $501 million it requested.

Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Jim Scales said that, if the school system must make drastic personnel changes, he hopes local officials will be able to do it on their own terms.

"I'm only concerned that ... we're given the opportunity to do it in such a way that individuals are not personally damaged, where their careers are short-circuited," he said. "Where they're the 'fall guy' for something that hasn't gone right."

Dr. Scales added that his support of Howard principal Paul Smith "is no secret."

The Achievement School District itself also will get its own statewide superintendent, whose base salary will be $250,000, according to Tennessee's Race to the Top application. State officials will begin looking for an in-state candidate in the next several months, said Amanda Anderson, spokeswoman for the state Department of Education.

Dr. Scales said he would not throw his name into consideration for the statewide position.

"I have my own district whose achievement I'm responsible for," he said.

PDF: Turning around the lowest-achieving schools

RACE TO THE TOP

Along with 15 states and the District of Columbia, Tennessee now is a finalist to receive the $501 million it requested in federal Race to the Top aid.

Under the achievement district, state officials also could oversee how much money Hamilton County Schools allocates to Howard.

County schools Chief Financial Officer Tommy Kranz did not return messages seeking comment.

Follow Kelli Gauthier on Twitter at twitter.com/gauthierkelli

Continue reading by following these links to related stories:

Article: Scales mulls options for Howard

Article: Gang summit offers solutions

about Kelli Gauthier...

Kelli Gauthier covers K-12 education in Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She started at the paper as an intern in 2006, crisscrossing the region writing feature stories from Pikeville, Tenn., to Lafayette, Ga. She also covered crime and courts before taking over the education beat in 2007. A native of Frederick, Md., Kelli came south to attend Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism. Before newspapers, ...

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dendod said...

I'll tell you what personel changes need to be made.Dr. "Couldn't teach a dog to fetch a stick" Scales and Tommy "Smoke and Mirrors" Krantz need to be given a severance package of about $10 and told good luck in finding a new job. They are the problem. I don't understand you parents who allow these two to continually mess the schools up. All either think about is money. Money...money...money. They don't care weather your child is properly educated or not. They just want to keep the dollars rolling in.

Replace those two with two people who have a clue and I gurantee you test scores and graduation rates will improve.

March 12, 2010 at 10:56 a.m.
SueG said...

Thank you Kelli for a good article!

The advocacy group Stand for Children is asking Tenneseeans to do a few things right now to help Tennessee school children benefit from Race to the Top.

1- sign the petition at http://www.stand.org/tn/wintherace. Let's tell Washington we want $500 million for our schools!

2 - send the petition link to 10 friends

3 - link your Facebook or Twitter status to the petition and let people know that Tennessee is in it to win it!!!

Take a minute today, the TN delegation is going to Washington on Monday.

March 12, 2010 at 12:06 p.m.
dendod said...

MONEY is not the answer. What's it going to take for the parents in Hamilton County to say enough is enough and get rid of Dr. "Can't teach a dog to fetch a stick" Scales and Tommy "Smoke and Mirrors" Kranz??? My God. This is your children's future your talking about. If Scales was managing a Bi-Lo he's done be gone By-By. Scales and Kranz allow the Hamilton County School System to wipe their rear ends on the American's with Disabilities Act and if you don't have enough money to move, home school or enroll your child in private school, tough luck if your child has a mental disorder. They are building a new school in East Ridge instead of improving the education your child receives. They refuse to make accommodations for mentally ill children when they know they can get away with it. The School system has Children's Services and the juvenile Court system in their pocket and labels children with mental illnesses as truants when they decide it's cheaper to put them in foster care as opposed to making the accommodations the Federal Statues mandate. All the while watching the children become obese. These dropouts won't be able to get in a VW much less build one. SHAME on Hamilton County School System. Shame on Scales and Kranz.

March 12, 2010 at 2:42 p.m.
SavartiTN said...

I think that dendod is on to something.

At Ooltewah High, the students have been told "if you don't like the school, go somewhere else." Like they have a choice. And who lets them get away with this behavior? Why, the main office, of course.

It's time to get a new superintedant.

March 12, 2010 at 4:34 p.m.
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