Birmingham Board to consider extending Witherspoon's contract

Birmingham City Schools have been under state takeover since summer. The takeover came with a warning: get the district's fiscal house in order, and cuts would come in three phases.{} The school board members will hear about phase two and phase three Tuesday.

State-appointed chief financial officer Dr. Ed Richardson says the round cuts is expected to trim more than $12 million from the district's budgets, and those cuts mainly target school closures. The deadlines for implementation of those cuts are expected to be made public this January, Richardson says.

Following Richardson's presentation, board members are expected vote on whether to extend superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon's contract, which ends in June. The board also will decide on a tool to evaluate his performance. Richardson tells ABC 33/40 that, based on his initial conversations, he's optimistic board members will see the advantage in keeping Witherspoon on board.

"The advantage to us is obviously if you're going into phase 3, which is sustaining the changes for the long term, you can't hire major people if they are uncertain as to their leader being there," Richardson says.

As for Witherspoon, he says the system has moved forward since the state takeover.

"We've brought seven career academies online, we're in the process of international baccalaureate authorization and we're continuing professional development with our teachers," Witherspoon says.

Plus, he says, even amid the changes from the district level, he says the student performance remain at the core of their jobs.

"We are just continuing to move forward despite what may happen, just keeping our eye on the ball and continuing to move forward," Witherspoon says.