Birmingham City Schools

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:

  • Setting districtwide instructional expectations
  • Fostering collaboration among principals and instructional superintendents to help better identify specific school and leadership needs
  • Providing professional development plans tailored to each principal’s particular needs
  • Allowing each principal to develop instructional strategies for their schools
  • Providing consistent coaching and feedback to principals on implementation of the districtwide instructional expectations.

“We’re changing the culture of how principals and instructional superintendents interact. We are trying to make it a culture where they feel comfortable telling us what their needs are, what their concerns are so that we can have a collaborative approach to school improvement,” said instructional superintendent Anita Williams, who attended the Harvard program.

This was the second team from the Birmingham schools that has participated in the Harvard program, which is designed to help school leaders from urban systems improve performance and educational outcomes.

The Public Leadership Project team also included two school principals, Terrell Brown of Woodlawn High School and Natasha Flowers of Hayes K-8. Flowers said she intends to apply the actions they worked on as a model for her approach in setting instructional expectations and coaching for her teachers.

“Evaluations don’t develop teachers, coaching develops teachers,” Flowers said.

Superintendent Lisa Herring also attended the Harvard Public Leadership Project training, along with board member Mickey Millsap. Other participants included instructional superintendents Bernard Chandler and Gwendolyn Tilghman, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Pamela Williams, and Interim Child Academic and Accountability Officer Selena Florence.

Next summer, a third and final team of eight will participate in the leadership training program.

Computers for Carver

Also in the Aug. 13 meeting, the board voted to approve 375 desktop computers and 83 teacher laptops for Carver High School.

The age of the computers in the school system was discussed during the July 23 working meeting of the board. Troy Williams, chief operations officer at Birmingham City Schools, indicated that 15 of the system’s schools, including Carver, had computers that are 9 years or older.

While the proposal at the working meeting indicated a cost of $444,254, the requested and approved cost for the computers at Carver was $375.344.