Steve Prigohzy’s magnet school

CUEE’s paid expert from Chattanooga, Steve Prigohzy, started and ran a magnet school in Chattanooga, much like the one in Troup County that is still causing extra costs and consternation eighteen years after unification. Prigohzy’s school also used prison labor to avoid spending on local labor.

After reading Barbara Stratton’s piece about Steve Prigohzy screening a movie about magnet schools, I wondered, who is this Steve Prigohzy, anyway? CUEE never showed us his resume, as near as I can tell, and they’re a private organization, so they don’t have to. But his tracks are all over the Internet.

Cynthia M. Gettys and Anne Wheelock wrote for The New Alternative Schools in September 1994, (Volume 52, Number 1, Pages 12-15) Launching Paideia in Chattanooga,

With the board’s approval and support from the Lyndhurst Foundation, a committee outlined the necessary steps to develop a Paideia school for Chattanooga students. First, the group hired Steve Prigohzy as the school’s planner, promoter, and educational leader. Prigohzy looked for teachers who were lifelong learners themselves. “I would ask teachers to talk to me about a book they were reading that I shouldn’t miss. I wanted people who were acting out their curiosity about the world,” he said. Prigohzy also sought teachers whose appreciation for discourse would sustain the school as a community of learners. Limited public confidence, especially in the city’s middle schools, influenced the planning.
They must have liked him, because he was hired as its principal, according Jessica Penot and Amy Petulla in Haunted Chattanooga,
CSAS was the first, and until recently the only, K-12 Paideia school in the country. It was established on the Paideia principles that all children could learn and that the children learned in a lot of different ways. Steve Prigohzy was hired as the school’s principal. He and his staff had little time, less money and a building they variously described as “nauseating,” “depressing” and “dog-ugly,” but they had enough motivation and drive to more than make up for those shortages. Mr. P, as he came to be known, brought in an interior designer willing to brainstorm ways to work with money shortages, the need to comply with the fire code and the necessity of preserving history.
The comments on the physical plant sound much like Terry Jenkins’ comments about a local high school in Troup County which had board floors and was only liked by “those people”. Hm, which high school around here is the oldest? I think that would be Valdosta High School. And of course its stadium is even older.

It gets better:

Money-saving measures included sending the auditorium chairs to Nashville so prisoners could refinish them, as well as rescuing lights that were otherwise on their way to the dump for use in the school.
Did outcompeting local labor with prisoners help the local economy? Do we want to promote the incarceration machine over education?

To be continued.


4 thoughts on “Steve Prigohzy’s magnet school

  1. vote no

    Can you check into Prigohzy being the highest paid non-professional person in education in new york…$280,000. wonder what cuee paid him?

  2. Barbara Stratton

    Good research John. I have not had time to research Mr. Prigohzy other than his connection with Chattanooga/Hamilton Co. school consolidation. It would be nice to know what CUEE paid him for his facilitator services. However, in light of CUEE’s apparent public amnesia concerning amounts spent on the consolidation efforts, I doubt you ever get an answer. One reason they love the idea of Public/Private Partnerships is the fact they are immune from open records requests via proprietary exclusions. I’m sure they will evade all questions concerning expenditures since CUEE is also immune. I do think they should adopt a better cover than “I don’t know”, because if they are the business leaders they claim to be ignorance of costs is not very commendable.

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