Fall Education Forum November 9--What is Tenure? REGISTER HERE


October 28, 2011

Citizens in Huntsville, Madison and Madison County will have the opportunity to learn more about school employee tenure on November 9 in a special Education Forum orga­nized by The Schools Foundation.

Noted expert Woody Sanderson, board attorney for both Madison and Madison County Schools, will be the key­note speaker at this event that begins at 7:00 p.m. at Red­stone Federal Credit Union on Wynn Drive.

Admission is $5 for Schools Foundation mem­bers and $10 for non-members. Registration and more informa­tion is available by clicking here.

The November 9 forum is the first of a series of events the foundation will sponsor this school year as part of its commitment to Speak Up, a community engagement initiative begun last year. An overriding message from the 100 conversations attended by nearly 1,400 citizens was the need for more communication and information about education-related topics.

The examination of teacher tenure was a topic raised at nearly all those 100 conversations.

Fall Education Forum

About The Schools Foundation

The Schools Foundation is a not-for-profit local education foundation in Huntsville, Alabama.  The Foundation supports all three public school systems in Madison County, Alabama: Huntsville City Schools, Madison County Schools and Madison City Schools.  The Foundation solicits corporate contributions, individual donations and grant funds to support a variety of programs including student scholarships, teacher grants, staff development, technology deployment, and other programs that directly benefit students and enhance educational opportunities in the community's three public school systems.  Foundations funds are distributed equitably to the three school districts based on student enrollment.

The Schools Foundation mailing address is P.O. Box 763, Huntsville, AL 35804.  To contact the Foundation, call (256) 503-3213 or e-mail Debbie Beaupre at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it To learn more about the Foundation, visit the web site at:  www.theschoolsfoundation.org and www.speakupalabama.org.


Speak Up Results--View Data Analysis Files
Click here to view the Data Analysis Files for the Speak Up community engagement initiative. Results are posted by system.
Speak Up Results--Data Files

Click on the school system to see data results.  Summary reports will be posted upon completion.

Huntsville City Data Results

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4


Madison City Data Results


Madison County Data Results

Speak Up--Join the Online Community Conversation!
Join the online Community Conversation...click here! ◊
Host a Community Conversation!

Fall  Education Forum, November 9--What is Tenure?  REGISTER HERE

Citizens in Huntsville, Madison and Madison County will have the opportunity to learn more about school employee tenure on November 9 in a special Education Forum orga­nized by The Schools Foundation.


Noted expert Woody Sanderson, board attorney for both Madison and Madison County Schools, will be the key­note speaker at this event that begins at 7:00 p.m. at Red­stone Federal Credit Union on Wynn Drive.


Admission is $5 for Schools Foundation mem­bers and $10 for non-members. Registration and more informa­tion is available by clicking here.

Fall Education Forum

Speak Up Results!!

Click here to view the data analysis results of the Speak Up community engagement initiative. Results are posted by system. Please note that it is not too late to join the ongoing online Community Conversation--see below!!


Speak Up!  Let us hear your voice!

Join the ongoing online Community Conversation--Click here!  Add your thoughts and vision on public education to the voices of over 1400 who have already participated in the Speak Up community conversations.

Speak Up is a community engagement effort designed to bring people together to talk about what we want for our community and for our schools.  Speak Up is an initiative of the Schools Foundation: www.theschoolsfoundation.org.

At the end of April 2011, we concluded our real time community conversations.  With over 100 conversations, we heard the voices of over 1400 people across Huntsville, Madison City, and Madison County.  We heard from teachers, from students, from the retired, and from some not even in school yet.  We met in churches, homes, community centers, and subdivision clubhouses.  We heard about curriculum, technology, communication, and community involvement.

We're not finished!  We need to hear YOUR voice.

Participate in the conversation by clicking here. Let us hear from you as we move forward as a collective community voice in support of public education in Huntsville, Madison City, and Madison County!

Pouncey: Immediate action needed to solve schools' deficit



Pouncey: Immediate action needed to solve schools' deficit

Friday, January 07, 2011 on AL.com

By Crystal Bonvillian, The Huntsville Times











Dr. Craig Pouncey, deputy state superintendent of education, speaks to the Huntsville city school board Thursday night about the system's financial crisis.


HUNTSVILLE, AL -- Huntsville's school system is in the tightest financial bind it's ever been in, and immediate action needs to be taken to solve the problem.

That was the message that Dr. Craig Pouncey, deputy state superintendent of education, delivered to the city's school board Thursday night. Pouncey, who heads the state Education Department's finance division, was in Huntsville to talk about the school system's $19.5 million in debt...(continue reading)

Large achievement gaps based on income and race persist in Huntsville schools

Published: Thursday, January 06, 2011, 7:03 AM

By Challen Stephens, The Huntsville Times

Three years ago, I was pulled into a months-long effort on the part of civic leaders to improve the three public school systems of Madison County. The first full day of brainstorming ended in an uproar.

A banker from Hampton Cove, along with several others, contended we were building on strengths, that we already had top flight schools. He had moved here from another Southern town.

But a principal from an elementary school in northwest Huntsville told him of being unable to teach children who came to school hungry, of students who had seldom traveled as far as the mall.

Voices were raised. But the truth was, as it had been for two decades, both were right. Huntsville has long been home to two cities, marked by race and separated by a north/south fault line. That's especially true when it comes to comparing achievement levels between schools...(continue reading)

Schools' ARMT scores strong but need work, data shows

Schools' ARMT scores strong but need work, data shows


Crystal Bonvillian, The Huntsville Times

HUNTSVILLE, AL -- "Demographics do not determine destiny for a school system."

That was the underlying message Thursday at an economic and education forum hosted by the Schools Foundation, the Committee of 100, Leadership Huntsville-Madison County and the Army Community Relations Committee.

That message became somewhat of a mantra for Jim Williams, executive director of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA), who gave a presentation on the state of area schools.

"Demographics and finances can make a difference, but they are not insurmountable," Williams said. "I see no smoking gun here that would create insurmountable obstacles to success."

The forum began with comments from Maj. Gen. Jim Rogers, commander at Redstone Arsenal. Rogers talked about how important a good school system is to a community's economic development.

The first thing an incoming military family does, even before choosing a home, is look at the area's schools, he said.

"School systems are the bedrock and the foundation that we build our families and our businesses on," Rogers said.

Williams, when going over data for the three area school systems, explained that PARCA used results from the Alabama Reading and Math Test (ARMT) when doing its comparisons of systems across the state. The benchmark was set high, using the percentages of Level IV ARMT scores.

Reaching Level IV proficiency is like making an "A" on a test in school, Williams said.

To compare student scores by race and socio-economic status, the report used four subgroups of the schools' population - white, black, poverty and non-poverty - and compared them to the state average in each subgroup.

For the 2009-2010 school year, Huntsville's students showed a remarkable achievement gap between races and socio-economic statuses. White students exceeded the statewide percentages at Level IV proficiency across the board, as did most grade levels in the non-poverty category.

The only exceptions were third, fourth and fifth-graders in math, the data shows.

All but one grade in the poverty subgroup scored below the state average in math and reading. The seventh-grade math students scored equal to the state average.

In the black subgroup, only seventh-graders scored above the state average in math. Eighth-graders scored within a percentage point of the state average in both subjects.

Scores were markedly better for both Madison city and Madison county schools. In Madison city schools, students in the white subgroup all scored above the state average, with most age groups scoring 10 percentage points or more above that average. Non-poverty students also scored above the state benchmark.

Unlike in Huntsville's schools, the black students in Madison also scored above the benchmark in nearly every grade level. The only exceptions were third, fourth and fifth-graders in math.

Students in poverty also did better in Madison, with about half of the grade levels scoring above the benchmark and the other half scoring below.

Madison County's poverty-stricken students did the best in that category out of the three systems, with all grade levels scoring above average in both math and reading.

Students in the other three categories all scored above average as well, with the exception of fourth-grade math students in both the white and black subgroups.

Elementary and middle school students in the non-poverty category also scored either at or below the benchmark.

Williams said that, overall, the results were strong.

"Two-thirds of the time, the success rates are above the state average," Williams said. "In those areas, it's time to raise the bar."

As for schools that did not do as well as others, Williams had encouraging words.

"Every school has to start from someplace in the improvement process," he said. "Success is built over time. It's a marathon, not a sprint."

Scott McLain, president of the Schools Foundation, told the audience that Thursday was a "watershed day" for the school systems.

"We have some of the best schools in the Southeast, but we have our challenges," McLain said.

He faulted the public for a lack of involvement in the area's education system. Involvement from the community, including the business community, is vital to the success of the students, he said.

McLain also said it is not good enough for the schools to be as proficient as the state average, citing Alabama's notorious position near the bottom when compared to other states.

"The data we saw is not consistent with the way we think of the Rocket City," McLain said. "Do we want to catch up with the rest of Alabama, or do we want to do better?"

Click here to read the article on Al.com.

Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA) Report



Click here to read the full report.

Letter to the Editor: Grade for Community Support for Schools—“Needs Improvement”
Published: Monday, October 11, 2010

The Huntsville Times


I was delighted to read the Times coverage of the outstanding Advanced Placement test results we have achieved in seven Huntsville City and Madison County high schools. This is a great example of our private sector, through the Schools Foundation, making direct contributions that benefit students and teachers in our community.


Many of our citizens have a view that we have some of the best schools in the state. While that may be true of the school in their neighborhood we are no longer a leader in funding our schools, like we were 20 years ago. Today we are average in our community millage rate contribution to schools, average in over all test scores, and (shockingly) we have several schools that rank in the bottom 10% of the state in student achievement. The citizens of Mountain Brook, Vestavia, Hoover, Prattville and many others are more willing to allocate more money to improve schools.


The community needs to evaluate our commitment to the future manifested in the faces of the children in our schools. They are all our kids whether they are at Jones Valley or University Place, Colonial Hills or Riverton.  Good public education is a foundation of any community, especially one like ours. We cannot be the leader in technology and lag in K - 12 funding.


Learn more about the Schools Foundation and their work to engage the community in dialogue through Speak Up. Austin and Boston are our targets - not Montgomery. Let's get this right today!


Tim Singleton Jr.



(Tim Singleton is the Vice President of the Board of The Schools Foundation)


Baldwin County Education Coalition moving on long-range planning initiative

Baldwin County Education Coalition moving on long-range planning initiative

Published: Tuesday, September 28, 2010, 6:52 AM on AL.com

Connie Baggett, Press-Register

(Click here to read the original article on AL.com)


BAY MINETTE, Alabama -- With a successful sales tax campaign done and political clout growing, leaders in the Baldwin County Education Coalition said the group is moving on to its next project: making long-range plans with a reliable funding source for schools.

"I think the most meaningful part of this process so far has been the response we've gotten from participants," said Denise D'Oliveira, one spokeswoman for the initiative. "To sit with people -- all kinds of citizens -- in their homes and churches and listen to them talk about the community they want for their children and grandchildren has been nothing short of inspiring."

Most people just want to be heard, she said, and the talks will help direct the coalition's long-term proposals to school officials. "Given the large number of folks who have participated, we will have a much clearer sense of where we want to go as a community -- with the community being all of Baldwin County -- not just our own neighborhoods," D'Oliveira said.

In dozens of meetings across the county over the past months with parents, teachers and other leaders, coalition members led what they call "community conversations" designed to focus attention on education.

D'Oliveira told a gathering in Bay Minette last week that more than 70 meetings with more than 1,000 people had already taken place by mid-September. The meetings focus on six questions based on a tested public engagement model. The resulting discussions will help the group list priorities for a "community agreement."

Once the meetings wrap up in October, the coalition will formulate the agreement and present it to the Baldwin County Board of Education in December as a tool to help guide long-range planning.

The coalition of the seven education foundations in the county formed in September 2009 as the worst recession since the Great Depression left the Baldwin County Public School finances in shambles. The system serving some 28,000 students lost more than $61 million in state and local funding over a two-year period. Responding to the financial pressure, the system shed hundreds of employees including teachers and cut popular programs. Board members voted to close two schools. Superintendent Faron Hollinger left in December, a year before the end of his contract.

The foundations representing each feeder pattern include South Baldwin Chamber Foundation, North Baldwin Coalition for Excellence in Education, Supporting Educational Enrichment in Daphne Schools, Central Baldwin Education Foundation, Alabama Gulf Coast Area Education Enrichment Foundation, Fairhope Educational Enrichment Foundation and Spanish Fort Educational Enrichment Foundation.

Despite a down economy, voters approved a 3-year, 1-percent sales tax in March to help bridge the financial gap and save hundreds of additional layoffs.

Newly appointed Superintendent Alan Lee took the helm of the system in July and started restructuring management.

The coalition meetings follow the "Yes We Can" model developed in Mobile County in 2001 when voters there supported the first property tax increase for schools in 40 years.

In the meetings, leaders ask those who attend to answer questions like "What kind of community do we want to live in?" and "What do we want public schools to be like?" among others. Answers from one community to the other are strikingly similar, coalition members said.

Parents want strong teachers with ongoing professional development, some said, and they want better communication with administrators both in local schools and in the central office. They want openness and challenging curriculum with logical ties to industry and business in the area. They want aggressive economic development, and community pride. Parents want all students in the county to have the same opportunities to achieve, according to feedback from various meetings.

One main challenge listed for the county was funding. Parents agreed that local and statewide education funding needs to come from a more stable source than sales tax.

Education funding in Alabama comes primarily from income taxes and sales taxes, both of which can be erratic revenue streams. Baldwin schools also depend heavily on sales taxes for local funding, so the economic downturn hit the system hard.

Several at the Bay Minette meeting agreed that sales taxes need to be lowered and property taxes increased for schools.

Overall, D'Oliveira said, people want excellent schools and greater accountability and the move to secure reliable funding for schools is advancing statewide.

Terry Burkle, who leads the Central Baldwin Chamber foundation, said planning and holding the evening meetings have been hectic, but worth the effort.

"Everyone wants the same thing: the very best for our children," Burkle said. "And the best way to achieve our aspirations is by working in solidarity."


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