By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter
The principals at the 27 “failing” Montgomery schools that are slated for state takeover will receive 10-percent salary increases and three-year contract extensions, the Alabama Political Reporter has learned.
Multiple sources familiar with the takeover process said the raises will be limited only to those principals in the MPS system. Additionally, the sources said, the raises and extensions surprised those close to state superintendent Michael Sentance and has angered several of his supporters, including many state lawmakers.
“This basically kills any improvement plan you could have,” a source told APR. “You can’t overhaul the leadership at any school. There’s no school consolidation now. There’s nothing that can be done. It’s basically a waste of time and money.”
Sentance and the Alabama State Board of Education announced plans to intervene in MPS more than a month ago, and last week, the department announced its list of schools it planned to take over when that intervention occurred.
In all, the state department said it would assume oversight of 27 of the district’s 56 schools.
MPS board members have expressed frustration with Sentance over the handling of the process and attempted to speak with him on numerous occasions over the last few weeks. Board member Mary Briers has been a regular on talk radio shows in Montgomery, expressing her disapproval with a takeover that was billed as a collaboration with locals, but in her view, has been anything but.
“This was not what I signed on for, I can tell you that,” Briers said last month.
However, Briers said late Tuesday that she and other board members were able to meet with Sentance last week and discuss many of their issues.
Sentance’s decision to up the pay for some principals is being viewed by many as a sort of olive branch to the local leaders and to the Montgomery public school community — a way to buy support for a process that might be difficult at times. In addition to Briers, a group of local and influential pastors has been very vocal in their opposition to the takeover.
“(MPS board members) played the race card and he’s bending over backwards now to make them happy for some reason,” a source said. “He’s lost everyone on his side by doing this, I can tell you that much.”