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.
BCS’s Charles A. Brown Elementary in Belview Heights has been designated as an IB school, Herring said. Brown Principal Steve Brown and staff spent two years on the detailed process to qualify as an IB World School. IB is a nonprofit educational program aimed at helping students develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world. Brown is a K-5 school that serves the Five Points West community.
“Thank you Mayor Woodfin and City Council,” Herring said, noting that the just-approved 2018 city budget included $3 million for city schools, an increase of $1.27 million.
Board President Cheri Gardner said that new Mayor Randall Woodfin, who served on the city school board before his successful run for mayor, “came through on his commitment to education.”
New partnerships touted by board members included BBVA Compass Bank’s Blue Elf program, which brought a toy for each child during visits to Wylam and South Hampton K-8 schools, plus a $25 voucher for each child to open a BBVA savings account. Also, Sloss Furnace, the preserved 1880s iron furnace and National Historic Landmark, sent toys to Huffman Academy students and wants to host city school students for one of the furnace’s guided tours and iron pour demonstrations, said board Vice President Douglas Ragland.
The school board also recognized Woodlawn High school graduate Jarrell Jordan, now a junior at Morehouse College in Atlanta who serves as ambassador and adviser for Historically Black Colleges and Universities for the White House and U.S. Department of Education.
For the second year, Jordan is visiting Birmingham schools with the Importance of Education Tour. Jordan, who received a Bill and Melinda Gates scholarship as a top graduate from Woodlawn in 2015, encourages students about the value of continuing their education.
He also is a 2017 FBI Citizens Academy graduate and is chief development and innovation officer of the Morehouse College student government association. Jordan’s tour continues through Dec. 19.
In other business, the school board:
- Heard from Sharon Robertson, chief business officer, about the state’s audit of 2016 financials. With the exception of some documentation issues at a few schools, the audit revealed no restrictions or systemwide issues with the financial accounting of the $378 million annual budget. The issues at schools, mostly involving schools’ concession sales, are being addressed with standard operating procedures and quarterly bookkeeper and principal training at schools. Robertson said the audit also noted on-going issues of debt from operation of school concessions and snack stores at a few schools that go back years. Because such debt cannot be paid with public funds, schools must fundraise or accept donations to address the deficits in school store accounts at individual schools.
- Recognized two retiring teachers, Regina Carr-Hope, who retired after 26 years with the system, most recently as principal at Wenonah High School, and Wanda Burchfield, with 23 years of service, including 12 years as principal of Barrett Elementary.
- Praised the work of Birmingham arts and music instructors and students who presented the All City Music Fest Dec. 7 at Boutwell Auditorium that featured 1,000 Birmingham students. They also recognized Parker High School and Putnam Middle School choirs, which performed at Woodfin’s inauguration.