Category: Birmingham City Schools

Birmingham Promise Approved by City Council

The Birmingham City Council today took a big step toward fulfilling the promise of Birmingham Promise by funding apprenticeships and scholarships for students of Birmingham city high schools.

By unanimous consent, council members authorized the mayor to execute a project agreement between the city and Birmingham Promise in which Birmingham Promise will administer a program to, among other things, increase postsecondary opportunities and economic prosperity of graduates of Birmingham schools.

The city will provide $10 million during the next five years – $2 million per year – subject to extension in accordance with the terms of the agreement. Students must be enrolled in city schools now in order to qualify for the apprenticeships.
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One Birmingham City Council Seat Goes to a Runoff; Two Incumbents Returned to the Council

One Birmingham City Council seat will be up for a runoff after none of the candidates won more than 50 percent of the votes in Tuesday’s balloting. See full results here.

Wardine Towers Alexander will face Ray Brooks on Nov. 19 in a runoff for the council District 7 seat. Alexander won 42.41% of the vote to challenger Ray Brooks’ 30.88%.

Two other races were decided Tuesday. Crystal Smitherman will return as council District 6 councilor, having garnered 51.50% of the vote in a seven-candidate field. In the District 1 race, Clifton Woods will return to the council, with 71.27% of the vote in his district.

The three propositions to renew separate ad valorem taxes all passed by wide margins, with those voting yes in each race amounting to about 90%.

Reporting of full results was delayed until Wednesday because of an error in the handling of electronic machine memory cards at three different precincts.

The cards from the Martha Gaskins School, Robinson Elementary School and Five Points West precincts were sealed inside boxes that contained the paper ballots filled out by voters. Officials with the Birmingham City Clerk’s office had to get a court order Wednesday morning to allow them to open the box and add those votes to the total. Read more.

Megachurch Presence in Birmingham Schools Sparks Tension

WBHM

Church of the Highlands, Alabama’s biggest megachurch, has expanded into the inner city, leasing space at two Birmingham schools. But there’s been pushback in the community, some of it highlighting a racial divide.

The Birmingham Board of Education recently renewed the church’s lease for three more years at Parker High School and another campus at Woodlawn High for about $1 million combined. Read more.

Birmingham Board of Education Approves $313 Million School Budget

The Birmingham Board of Education has approved a $313 million budget that will fund salary increases, security enhancements and maintenance projects.

The board voted 8-1 Tuesday in favor of the budget for the fiscal year that beings Oct. 1. Daagye Hendricks, who represents District 4, cast the lone vote against the spending plan. She said she felt there were too many unanswered questions and not enough information.

The budget includes several salary increases: a state-mandated 4 percent raise to all BCS staff, including teachers, that the Alabama Legislature approvedin May; step salary increases; a 5% raise for custodians, bus drivers, child-nutrition workers and managers; and a raise from $8.25 an hour to $9 an hour for substitute teachers.
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Woodfin Discusses Plan for Free College Tuition to City Graduates

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin on Wednesday discussed his plan to offer Birmingham City Schools graduates the chance to go to a public two-year or four-year school in Alabama tuition-free. He tweeted a reminder Tuesday of the program announced in May.

Even Presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders Bernie Sanders took notice. Read more.

Harvard Training Leads to Action Plans for BCS

Birmingham City Schools administrators who participated in Harvard University’s Public Leadership Project presented the school board with actions they’ve implemented as a result of attending the program.

In the Aug. 13 board meeting, the team cited the district’s troubled history of superintendent turnover, inconsistent instructional guidelines and poorly defined roles for principals as instructional leaders as the reason 72% of the schools currently score “D” and “F” on the state Educational Report Card. The team identified five strategies for improving schools to a “C” grade or higher by 2023. Read more.

Woodfin Brags on Birmingham Promise, Entreats Business Leaders to Work With the Internship Program

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin announced Tuesday that the pilot program of his Birmingham Promise Education Initiative had been successfully completed, though he entreated members of the city’s business community to partner with the internship program as it expands. Read more.

Birmingham School Board Approves Hiring 60 New Teachers Despite Teacher Shortage

With just 15 days before students arrive for their first day of school, the Birmingham Board of Education approved hiring more than 60 teachers.

As a result of the approvals, Birmingham City Schools has filled all but 11 of the 150 teacher vacancies that were identified at the end of the 2018-19 school year, school Superintendent Lisa Herring announced during a special called board meeting July 23.

Herring said that, in the face of a teacher shortage, successfully filling almost all of the teaching positions was an important moment to acknowledge.

“That is extremely significant,” Herring said. “There are teacher shortages across the entire state.” Read more.

Read more BirminghamWatch reporting on the teacher shortage:

Alabama’s Teacher Shortages Reach ‘Crisis’ Level

Behind Teacher Shortage: Fewer New Educators Graduating From Alabama Schools

Birmingham School Officials Say Schools Can Work Around Woodfin’s Proposed Budget Cut

Birmingham City School Superintendent Lisa Herring said Tuesday that, although she’s not sure where BCS will go to make up the $2 million that Mayor Randall Woodfin is proposing to cut from the school’s budget, she’s confident “it doesn’t put the district in a state of distress.”

Woodfin’s budget proposal would cut the city’s funding for schools from $3.2 million to $1 million, shifting $2 million into a fund for the Birmingham Promise Education Initiative, a public-private apprenticeship and scholarship program.

In previous years, BCS has spent the $3 million allocation from the city on community-based and outreach programs through the schools; one-time purchases to meet security needs, such as metal detectors; and on personnel, athletics and academics, Herring said.

The city board of education in a letter to the mayor and council expressed support for the Birmingham Promise program but asked that the $2 million cut be reconsidered in the future.

Herring echoed that idea in an interview with BirminghamWatch, saying she understood the Birmingham Promise initiative would have a direct impact on students.

“We are aware that we are talking about an amount in which, given the overall budget of our organization, there is space for us to have recovery,” Herring said.

Several school board members also said they can deal with the cut, though some said they wish they didn’t have to. Read more.

Also Tuesday:

Woodfin Defends Proposed Cut to Education Budget

Woodfin Defends Proposed Cut to Education Budget

Mayor Randall Woodfin defended his plan for Birmingham’s education budget at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, arguing that shifting millions of dollars from city schools to his proposed Birmingham Promise Initiative would allow the city to invest directly in students.

Woodfin’s proposed FY 2020 operating budget would cut the city’s funding for Birmingham City Schools from $3.2 million to $1 million. It would place that $2 million into a fund for the Birmingham Promise Education Initiative, a public-private partnership that would provide juniors and seniors in Birmingham city schools with paid apprenticeships as well as dual enrollment opportunities with Lawson State and Jefferson State community colleges. The program also would offer scholarships for city school graduates to attend public colleges and universities in Alabama.

Woodfin’s proposed cut to the schools’ budget has gotten mixed reviews. The city board of education in a letter to the mayor and council expressed support for the program but asked that the $2 million cut be reconsidered in the future.

Some council members today expressed support for the program and said it would be a benefit to Birmingham’s students; others were wary and said they needed details about the plan before being asked to vote on it. Read more.