Category: Birmingham City Schools
Birmingham city schools have a new superintendent this fall. Longtime educator Mark Sullivan officially took over the role last month. He’s the district’s fourth superintendent in the past decade but Sullivan is no stranger to the system. Many hope that will keep him on the job longer than his predecessors.
Taking on a leadership role in the middle of a pandemic requires some adjustments. Students and teachers continue virtual learning, but that hasn’t prevented Sullivan from making school visits.
On a recent day, he walked down a hallway at Birmingham’s Phillips Academy. Sullivan is here to check in with school administrators. These are halls he knows well. “I used to be principal here … it’s hard to believe,” he said. “These hallways used to be filled with students.”
Though she insisted that she was “absolutely not here in my professional capacity,” Birmingham School Board President Daagye Hendricks addressed the Birmingham City Council on Tuesday, calling Mayor Randall Woodfin’s proposed FY 2021 budget “egregious” for cutting funding to city schools.
This year’s city budget is nearly $50 million smaller than last year’s budget, thanks to a sharp decline in the city’s business tax revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the $412 million budget’s many proposed austerity measures — which include funding cuts for external organizations and furloughs for hundreds of city employees — is a reduction of $1 million in city funding to Birmingham City Schools.
The Birmingham Board of Education on Monday night named Dr. Mark Sullivan school superintendent, replacing Dr. Lisa Herring, who left Birmingham in April to become superintendent of Atlanta schools. Read more.
Mayor Randall Woodfin defended some controversial cuts in his proposed FY 2021 budget Tuesday, arguing that, despite a significant drop in city funding, both Birmingham City Schools and the Birmingham-Jefferson Transit Authority would continue to operate as usual. Much of the money they lost will be made up by funds from elsewhere.
Many other groups, including the library system, zoo and Railroad Park, are facing much bigger consequences. Read more.
UPDATED — Dr. Mark Sullivan announced in a Wednesday press conference that all Birmingham City Schools would be starting the school year virtually on Aug. 24. Sullivan, the interim superintendent for BCS, made the announcement with Birmingham Board of Education members.
All learning will be online for the first nine-week grading period. BCS will evaluate the safety of returning to in-person learning after that.
“This decision was not made lightly, but at this juncture I believe it is our best option to assure the quality of education that we have for our students and to maintain a safe, nurturing environment for all of our students,” Sullivan said. Read more.
The Birmingham Board of Education wants to know what qualities members of the public would look for in a new superintendent. Read more.
Birmingham school Superintendent Lisa Herring is leaving to become superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools. She is expected to remain head of Birmingham City Schools through the end of May, at which point she will return to her home state of Georgia.
The Birmingham school system announced Tuesday Herring has been named the “sole finalist” for the post in Atlanta.
Mayor Randall Woodfin announced Tuesday that three corporate foundations — Alabama Power, Altec/Styslinger and Regions — have each committed $1 million to the new Birmingham Promise educational initiative.
The Birmingham Promise initiative initially was approved as part of the city’s FY 2020 budget, funded with $2 million taken from the city’s allocation to Birmingham City Schools. The program is planned to offer juniors and seniors in city schools paid internships and dual enrollment opportunities, as well as offering graduates the opportunity to attend in-state two-year or four-year public colleges tuition-free.
The $3 million in corporate contributions announced Tuesday will go “a long way” toward the tuition assistance side of the Birmingham Promise, Woodfin said. Read more.
A town hall meeting on the status of education in Birmingham has been set for Jan. 15, 6-8 p.m. State Reps. Mary Moore and John Rogers, both D-Birmingham, set the town hall, called “Where Do We Go From Here.” Moore said a number of local and state Board of Education members as well as local and state elected officials have been invited to speak.
Birmingham’s school superintendent has “met expectations and goals for improvement” according to an evaluation presented at Tuesday’s board meeting.
On a 1 to 5 scale, Superintendent Lisa Herring received a 3.55 rating.
Two metrics were used in the evaluation: a rating based on benchmarks set out by the district’s strategic plan (3.36) and a cumulative score from board members (3.75). Those two scores were averaged to produce the final number. Read more.