Category: Birmingham City Schools

A Conversation With the Superintendent: Birmingham Schools’ Herring Talks About Facing Competition for Students, Being Accountable and Building Relationships

Birmingham City Schools have a lot of competition for students, as reflected in enrollment decline and in the private, parochial, charter and other alternative schools that serve the Birmingham community.

Students in the city have many options, depending on religious affiliation, or ability to pay, or talent, or simply availability and choice.

That competition does not go unnoticed and it does have an impact, Dr. Lisa Herring, superintendent of the Birmingham City Schools, said in a recent interview. But she did not grant competition from alternative schools an outsized share of responsibility for enrollment declines in the city schools.

She said talking about competition for Birmingham students also means considering other factors important to student success.

“We always want to strive to be the very best,” she said. “We know that there’s accountability in that. And I believe that’s important, not just for our students but for our teachers, principals, parents and all. But we just want what’s best for our children. … So, if we talk about competition, we have to talk about care. If we say competition, we have to talk about competency.”

Having looked at BCS enrollment over the past 10 years, she said, “There has been slight decline, not extreme, but certainly slight in that there’s some decline each year with one exception … . There was one year when we had an increase.”

The increase was in the 2015-2016 school year, when BCS had 24,010 students in K-12, according to the Alabama State Department of Education website, up from 23,963 the year before. Otherwise Birmingham schools have had gradual declines most of the past decade, with the end result of a nearly 5,000 student decrease. In 2008-2009, the school system had 27,218 enrolled in K-12, according to the state department information. In the 2018-2019 school year, it had 22,246. The ALSDE website includes enrollment back to 1995-1996, when BCS had 39,545 students in K-12.

Pre-K numbers dropped over the decade, from 2,109 in 2008-2009 to 1,938 in 2018-2019. Pre-K enrollment peaked in 2013-2014 with 2,331 students. Going back to ‘95-‘96, there were 3,192 students in pre-K.

Declining enrollment, Herring said, is not all about students leaving for alternatives. “That’s tied to not just having school opportunities and school choice, but also a highly transient community. But to answer your question specifically, it makes us want to stay focused on making our schools a first choice based on offerings, and it’s based on performance.” Read more.

Community Development Group Donates $50K to Washington K-8

Navigate Affordable Housing Partners, a housing and community development nonprofit organization, has donated $50,000 to Washington K-8 School as part of its work in the North Titusville neighborhood.

“Any development community effort is only successful it you have schools. Strong schools make for strong communities and strong communities have healthy families,” Lisa McCarroll, CEO of the group, said while presenting the donation during a Birmingham Board of Education board meeting June 11. Read more.

Shooting for the A — Birmingham Schools principal succeeded at one school. Now he’s aiming to redirect another that is facing significant challenges.

Brown
When Dr. Terrell Brown took over as principal at Birmingham City’s Minor Elementary School, the school had a failing “F” grade. By the time he left three years later, Minor had improved to a “C.”

Over at W.E. Putnam Middle School, where Brown is now, the goal is to do a repeat.

Brown is taking his best practices from Minor and his time at Midfield City Schools and is applying them to his efforts to turn Putnam around from its “F” report card grade and five-time appearance on the AAA failing schools list. Read more.