Mayor Tommy Battle explains why he sent letter to 2 Huntsville school board members

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Wednesday, Mayor Tommy Battle explained why he sent a letter to two Huntsville school board members last week.

He sent the letter, which WHNT News 19 obtained, to board members Pam Hill and Michelle Watkins. In it, he urged them to get along, saying last Thursday’s contentious school board meeting “did not reflect the values we have established in our community.”

Watkins responded Tuesday.

WHNT News 19 reached Hill by phone Wednesday for comment. She explained that she does not intend to answer the mayor, “nor do I answer to him,” she said.

In an email newsletter, Battle explained his intentions in sending the correspondence. He indicated his involvement began when citizens contacted his office, concerned about March 2 school board meeting. He noted that the two members to whom he sent the letter are the newest members, and that he was concerned about the perception of the Huntsville community after viewing their behavior.

Battle wrote:

“Last week, the Huntsville Board of Education experienced a particularly contentious meeting, prompting a number of concerned calls to my office. Recognizing we have members new to politics on the school board, I sent a private letter to two individuals encouraging them to consider the impact of their comments made during the March 2 meeting, which I encourage you to watch.

This is my public message to you on what I had hoped to accomplish in my personal message.

Our community has come to expect a level of behavior from our elected leaders that will inspire confidence among our parents, teachers, students, and the business community. Anybody coming here should see we have good government, and I am concerned by the perception we are giving industry and our children. City Hall does not attempt to interfere in the management of the City School System; however, as your mayor of this great city, it is my role to promote Huntsville, which means earning the confidence of incoming companies and families to trust our public schools with the education of their children. Jobs, opportunity, and quality of life are all dependent upon the success of our schools.

The Huntsville community has worked hard to get our school system back on track, and we want our new superintendent, Dr. Matt Akin, to know he has our full support – not for his benefit alone but to keep our eye on the prize – providing a high quality education for our children.

Huntsville expects our elected leaders to conduct themselves in the manner befitting a community of thinkers, dreamers and doers. Our children deserve nothing less, and our future depends upon it.

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