Big changes could be coming to Huntsville City Schools

HUNTSVILLE Ala. -- The Huntsville City school district may soon be making some big changes, administrators are calling them a game changer. The "model schools initiative" could be coming to every school in the district for the upcoming school year.

The program looks at the nations most improving schools and applies their best practices to schools across the country. The man who launched the initiative spoke with Huntsville principals and administrators Monday morning. He said the biggest change will be a shift in focus from reciting knowledge to applying knowledge. A spokesperson for Huntsville City Schools said the founder, Bill Daggett, is to education, what Nick Saban is to football.

"Once you learn how to apply knowledge, you never forget it," said Daggett, the Chairman and Founder of the International Center for Leadership and Education. "Application will bring you to relevance. Don't start with rigor, start with relevance. And that's what we do."

Daggett has brought his model school ideas to districts across the country and around the world. Huntsville City School's interim superintendent is hoping Huntsville will be added to that list.

"We are going to be a future-focused schools system. And what that means is we're planning out three to five years and it's a backward design process," said Christie Finley, the Interim Superintendent.

She said the initiative will focus on showing students how what they are learning connects to the real world. She said these changes can't wait until the board selects the permanent superintendent.

Finley said regardless of who the superintendent is the district needs to focus on student achievement and teacher retention.

"They need to know that we support them, and the students also need to know we support them," Finley said.

The contract with model schools is for two years and costs $700,000. That cost will cover all 37 schools in the district

"You can't put a cost on what we're going to be doing for students, because it's best for them and making sure that they're prepared," said Finley.

Madison County Schools went through the program back in 1994. Finley said they saw great results, including an improvement in drop out rates.

The system was presented to the Huntsville City School Board at their meeting last Thursday night. Now the board will vote on it at their next board meeting on the 24th. Finley said she hopes to start rolling out the program this August.