MPS board president says collaborative spirit with state all but - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

MPS board president says collaborative spirit with state all but gone

MPS board members not happy with the intervention process so far. (Source: WSFA 12 News) MPS board members not happy with the intervention process so far. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

The Montgomery Public Schools Board has issues and frustrations with the Alabama State Department of Education and its handling of the intervention into MPS so far.

It's only been four months since the intervention was announced. MPS school board members stood next to the state board of education members promising a spirit of collaboration for the intervention process. Ask MPS Board President Robert Porterfield now and he'll tell you that spirit is all but gone.

"So far we haven't had the collaboration that we had expected," Porterfield said. "Certainly we are getting the results of what they are doing at the state department as more like a reaction to what's happening rather than us being a part of the decisions that are being made."

The criticism of the state board came after Interim Chief School Financial Officer Brenda Palmer gave an update on the school's budget. Huntsville CFO Jason Taylor was hired to be MPS' new chief school financial and operations officer in March and was not present at Tuesday's meeting.

The position has been a sore spot for MPS after they fired their previous CFO last year. Since then, the school has struggled with submitting it's budget documents, something the state noted when it sent the notice of intervention to MPS. Board members discussed the possibility of hiring additional staff to support Palmer but their uncertainty regarding the situation and makeup of the central office cast doubt on their ability to do that.  

"You know how many months we were behind. Now we're expecting her to perform miracles with what she has to work with," Briers said. "They told she would be able to advertise for the position. That was a lie," Briers said. 

Briers likened the intervention so far to a hostage situation. She asked her fellow board members to step up and demand the tools necessary to do their jobs. 

"I would have never signed up for an intervention if I knew it was not going to be for resources for things that would help the children and help our employees do their jobs," Briers said. "None of the money that's been spent so far has been spent on resources for children. The money has been spent on salaries and contracts. So we gotta stop rolling over and playing dead and demand that our superintendent be respected."  

Porterfield said he wholeheartedly agreed with Briers concerns. 

"We need to support what's in that department but yet, from my understanding, we're waiting on the state department. We need to continue moving forward with MPS," Porterfield said.

The MPS board is scheduled to meet with ALSDE on Monday. Porterfield says he and several board members will address their concerns with State Superintendent Michael Sentance at that meeting.

Last week, Sentance said he was consulting with MPS Superintendent Margaret Allen on potential hirings and firings as part of the intervention. Porterfield said he had heard the same thing and was concerned the board wasn't also a part of those conversations.

"Since we are to be working together collaboratively, that would be a conversation it would seem Mr. Sentance and his staff would have had with the Montgomery Public School Board because we are the ones who said 'yea' to the persons that are in those positions now," Porterfield said.

Several other hires have been made in the intervention process, but several MPS board members mentioned their concerns of a lack of communication from them as well. Melissa Snowden said she had no idea what Taylor even looks like. Porterfield said they have not been having meetings with those intervention leaders.

"Even in trying to make contact, we haven't had that conversation and certainly it is a conversation that we need to have," Porterfield said.

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