Introduction of the first Birmingham city school superintendent’s Student Advisory Council and approval of an ACT preparation course for 11th-graders highlighted Tuesday night’s meeting of the Birmingham Board of Education.
Superintendent Lisa Herring introduced eighth- through 12th-grade students whose video applications earned them a place on the council to advise her.
“The voices of students are one of the most important voices we need to hear as we lead the school system,” Herring said. The 28-member advisory council has its first monthly meeting with the superintendent Jan. 12 and will serve as Bicentennial Ambassadors in local events celebrating Alabama’s 200-year statehood.
The council will provide the student perspective on critical issues, Herring said. Addressing an overflow crowd of students, parents and principals gathered in the BCS auditorium at its downtown headquarters, Herring said issues the students brought to the council include curriculum, leadership, poverty, bullying, community involvement and self-confidence.
“They now have direct access to me, and they have been accessing,” said Herring, who has been in the top BCS job since May.
Charter members of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council are: Emmanuel Bass, 10th-grader at Jackson-Olin; Skyla Brooks, 10th-grader at Carver; Micaiah Collins 10th-grader at Ramsay; Damiuna Dawson, 10th-grader at Carver; Saba Baskins, Eric Evans, Faith Gilliam, Keion Gilmore, Charles Grey, Daniella Rickett and JaMarria Hudson, all eighth-graders at Wilkerson; Kevia Harris, eighth-grader at Inglenook; Jason Howard, eighth-grader at Green Acres; Jordan Jackson, ninth-grader at Parker; Jillian Jolly, 11th-grader at Ramsay; De’Angelo Mitchell, 11th-grader at Jackson-Olin; twin sisters Desire and Divine Nwosu, eighth-graders at Putnam; Amauri Pettaway, 12th-grader at Parker; Kamora Porter, eighth-grader at Christian; Jarvis Prewitt, 11th-grader at Huffman; Monae Rowser, 12th-grader at Parker; Justin Smith, 10th-grader at Wenonah; Morgan Tate, ninth-grader at Ramsay; Kennedy Whisenant, 11th-grader at Ramsay; Demetrius Williams, 10th-grader at Carver; Lauren Simpson, ninth-grader at Jackson-Olin, and Destiny Huntingdon, 11th-grader at Woodlawn.
In other actions, school board members:
- Approved a $60,000 contract with Birmingham-based College Admissions Made Easy to offer preparatory classes for 11th-graders. The program is designed for 50 11th-graders from each of the system’s seven high school to attend classes – and take evaluation and practice tests – January through May. Herring noted that student performance on the ACT college entrance exam is now a part of state accountability measures for every school district, and all students, not just those who plan to attend college, now must take the ACT. The system also has an ACT prep program, Gear Up, for ninth- and 10th-graders.
- Approved a partnership agreement with the University of West Alabama’s Teacher Connect Scholarship Program that gives tuition help to Birmingham City Schools teachers and employees who enroll in education classes and continuing education at the college.
- Went into executive session with BCS staff attorney Afrika Parchman to discuss litigation. While school spokeswoman Adrienne Mitchell said she could offer no details on the litigation discussed, a ruling last week by the Alabama Court of Civic Appeals dismissed a BCS lawsuit that sought to block the opening of a charter school.
Star Academy had applied for a charter to open a school in the East Lake community serving pre-K, kindergarten and first-grade students beginning with the 2018-2019 school year. The lawsuit claimed that the Alabama Charter School Commission improperly overruled the Birmingham school board’s decision to deny a charter to Star Academy.
BCS had questioned Star Academy’s capacity and funding ability to open a successful charter school and cited concern about the school being church-based, which is prohibited by the charter school law. The Birmingham case was the first time the commission overruled a local charter authorizer’s denial since the Alabama Legislature’s charter school law was enacted in 2015.