Category: Birmingham Board of Education
The Birmingham City Council approved the redrawing of its district boundaries Tuesday to comport with data from the 2020 census, despite some councilors’ misgivings that the move will disenfranchise some voters.
Municipal law requires the redrawing of district lines after each federal census, which happens every 10 years. The goal of the redistricting is to balance the city’s population roughly equally among the nine districts, which each elect representatives to the City Council and school board.
But two councilors objected to the plan. Councilor Darryl O’Quinn said redistricting now basically invalidated the votes of thousands of residents whose districts changed. And Councilor Valerie Abbott objected to major sections of her area being shifted out of her district and other areas being added in. Read more.
The Birmingham City Council has set an April 19 public hearing on its proposed redistricting plan, which will likely culminate in a vote despite concerns from some councilors that the timing of the redistricting’s implementation could be interpreted as voter disenfranchisement.
Municipal law requires the city to draw new district lines after each federal census, which happens every 10 years, to make sure that population is roughly balanced among the nine districts, which each elect representatives to the City Council and the school board.
Due to delays caused by COVID, the council didn’t receive the 2020 census results until earlier this year, even though there was an election in fall 2021. Some councilors, such as Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, expressed concerns over the timing of the new map’s implementation. For the changes to be made so early in a four-year term, O’Quinn said, “would essentially nullify (voters’) participation” in the 2021 election. Read more.
This week, the Birmingham City board of education welcomes six new members — a mix of former educators, business professionals and education advocates — making more than half the board new.
With an extra $185 million in federal pandemic relief funding, the new board will have a lot more money to address issues in Birmingham City Schools than previous boards. Those issues include still dealing with COVID-19 and learning loss in the classroom as well as student mental health.
The school board works with the superintendent and oversees the $160 million budget. Its members are often the first point of contact for parents, teachers and students with issues or concerns. Here’s what incoming, returning, and outgoing board members told WBHM they’re watching for from the newly elected school board. Read more.
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.
When Jeff Sessions arrived at Woodlawn High School for a Wednesday morning press conference, Dr. Terrell E. Brown, the school’s principal, was waiting for him in the parking lot.
The press conference couldn’t be held on school grounds, he said — but Sessions was welcome to move to a parking lot across the street. Sessions’ campaign staffers begrudgingly acquiesced. “Well, that’ll make it part of the story,” one staffer muttered as they lugged the podium across the busy street.
The former U.S. attorney general and current U.S. Senate candidate was in Woodlawn to express his outrage over recent decisions by the Birmingham Board of Education and the Birmingham Housing Authority to cut ties with Church of the Highlands after founding pastor Chris Hodges “liked” several social media posts by the politically conservative group Turning Point USA.
“This is a matter of real importance,” Sessions said. “It deals concretely with the right of free speech and free expression of religious values and to be able to have independent ideas outside your work environment.”
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.
Election officials are expecting a light turnout in today’s city election, which will decide the fate of three property taxes for schools and three seats on the City Council.
Most voters will have only the three ad valorem tax renewals on their ballots. Those taxes generate about 12% of the Birmingham City Schools’ budget.
Voters in City Council Districts 1, 6 and 7 also will have a choice of city councilors to represent them on their ballots. That’s almost half of the council seats up for grabs. Councilors representing those districts were appointed after the elected councilors resigned their positions. Under the Mayor-Council Act, appointed councilors may serve only until the next election.
If no candidate in the city council elections has more than 50% of the vote, then a runoff election between the top two vote-getters will be held Nov. 19.
Some city polling places have changed this year. If you are uncertain of your polling place, you can verify it at AlabamaVotes.gov. Voters who have questions or problems at their polling places can call the Birmingham City Clerk’s office at 205-254-2290.
BirminghamWatch’s city voter guide provides profiles of the candidates, an explanation of the school taxes, information about casting a ballot, links to sample ballots and a map of council districts. Read the city voter guide.
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.
Dec. 14, 2017 —The good news kept coming at Wednesday night’s Birmingham City Schools Board of Education meeting.
In addition to a city elementary school earning International Baccalaureate status and the system receiving more money in the city’s just-approved budget, Superintendent Lisa Herring and board members also enthused about new partnerships among Birmingham schools and businesses and nonprofits, and an “importance of education” tour by a high-achieving Woodlawn High School graduate. Read more.