State Taking Over Birmingham Schools

Posted by .

State Taking Over Birmingham Schools

State Assuming Full Control of Birmingham Schools

ALSDE Officials To Hold A Press Conference Today

Tuesday was a long night for the Birmingham Board of Education, in more ways than one. Photo by Dan Carsen.

By Dan Carsen, June 26, 2012

It appears a deadline means a deadline to the Alabama State Department of Education.
After the Birmingham school board did not adopt a $12-million state-mandated cost-cutting plan
last night, the state education department is taking control of the Birmingham City School System today,
as spelled out in a recent state board resolution.

“I don’t think any of us want someone to come in here, and take care of my business. I don’t want
people telling me what to do, and I’m sure it’s the same in Birmingham,” said Ed Richardson, who’s
leading the team investigating Birmingham City Schools since April. “But [a takeover] was clearly on the
table. They chose to vote [the plan] down.”

The plan, which would include almost 200 personnel cuts, was meant to bring the system in line with a
state law requiring districts to keep a month’s operating expenses in reserve. Birmingham currently has
only about four days’ worth, and that’s before factoring in a coming decrease in state funding due
to dropping enrollment.

Brian Giattina, W. J. Maye, Phyllis Wyne, and surprisingly, Alana Edwards voted for the plan. Edward
Maddox, Tyrone Belcher, Virginia Volker and Emanuel Ford voted against the plan, and April Williams
abstained, effectively killing it with a tie.

The vote came after a long meeting that was heated and erratic even by Birmingham School Board
standards, featuring everything from accusations of racism to name-calling to a citizen using a loud dog
squeeze toy to accentuate his points to assurances of divine retribution,
and finally, an eight-year-old coming up to the podium and asking “Why do we always get rid of our
good teachers?”

Dr. Ed Richardson responds to pointed questions from the local board. Photo By Dan Carsen.

The Alabama Education Association and the local chapter of the American Federation of Teachers had large presences in the overcrowded auditorium. They cheered when the plan was not adopted.

After that, the board voted to direct its attorneys to “protect the
interests of the board.”

Soon after, Richardson said the threat of a legal battle will have little effect:

“Financial intervention has occurred 12 or 15 times. The process has clearly been established. This is not
something new.”

At one point during the meeting, Belcher said something he’s said before: “I’ve served in two wars, and
I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Craig Pouncey, deputy state superintendent, and Richardson have scheduled a press conference for 10
a.m. today, Wednesday, June 27, at the Birmingham City Schools Administration Building at 2015 Park

Dan Carsen

Education Reporter