Birmingham City Council

Birmingham City Council approves funding for metal detectors, enrichment programs for city schools

Security in Birmingham City Schools will be getting a boost this fall, after the Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to allocate $3,665,000 in funding to the city Board of Education.

According to the agreement, which was passed unanimously, that funding will be divided among school security, academic and athletic support, and after-school care and summer enrichment programs.

Of that $3,665,000 — which comes from the city’s general fund — $1,362,000 will go toward the purchase of 14 walk-through metal detectors, 20 handheld scanners, door alarms, security officers, and crossing guards and substitutes.

This increase in school security funding comes after the March 7 shooting death of Huffman High School senior Courtlin Arrington, who was shot in a classroom after school had ended for the day. One of her classmates, 17-year-old Michael Jerome Barber, was charged with her death. Superintendent Lisa Herring later said the school’s stationary metal detectors had not been in use that day, allowing Barber to enter the school with a firearm.

Troy Williams, chief operation officer for Birmingham City Schools, subsequently instructed principals to “make sure they are utilizing their metal detectors on a consistent basis.”

In addition to the increased security funds, the council will also allocate $1,638,000 to hiring 14 instructional coaches, three school psychologists and an unspecified number of athletic coaches. The remaining $665,000 will go toward after-school and summer programs focusing on “dance, music, theater, visual arts, multi-cultural camps, field trips, drama classes, creative writing and special holiday camps for students and/or parents and other creative expressions, self-esteem building activities, and violence prevention programs,” according to the agreement.

The council also passed three separate, much smaller funding initiatives for Birmingham Schools. Students “in need” at Wilkerson Elementary School will receive up to $1,000 from District 9 Councilor John Hilliard’s discretionary funds. W.E. Putnam Middle School’s library, meanwhile, will receive up to $1,000 for music equipment and music books and another $1,000 for books for the 2017-2018 school year — both from the Eastwood Neighborhood Association’s funds.