Birmingham School Board approves new Woodlawn program


Big changes are coming to Birmingham schools as the Board tries to create a state required one month operating reserve. At tonight's meeting the Board discussed the consolidations of Jackson and Hemphill, Kirby and Lewis. But those campuses have leaks, lead paint, and even mold.{}But there is some good news. Administrators are saying a {}program is giving a new life to an area of Birmingham that's struggling. In fact, they're hoping that- despite all the problems they're facing now- this will alter the perception of the Birmingham City Schools.It's a season of tough cuts at the Birmingham School Board. The Board found a few hangups in consolidating campuses - including lead paint, mold, and pipe problems."If we don't feel confident that these issues can be repaired moving forward, we do want to stop and think," Dr. Craig Witherspoon, Birmingham Superintendent said.But in the midst of consolidations, closings, and layoffs - there's a ray of light. An organization committed to revitalizing Woodlawn is turning its attention to the schools."I think it has the most promise of any initiative going on," Dr. Ed Richardson, State Appointed Chief Financial Officer said.The plan encompasses pre-k through high school - focusing on math and literacy and offering college level course work. {}Students falling behind will have one on one attention."I'm optimistic that that is going to mean that people now who are in the elementary schools here who usually leave us in middle and high school levels will say -we know we have a good school, we know where we're going to go and we hope then that they will stay," Dr. Richardson said.The Board rarely votes unanimously, but Tuesday they all said yes."Our students will benefit, the community will benefit, the parents will benefit, and it's certainly a plus for Birmingham City Schools," Dr. Witherspoon said.Myeisha Hutchinson is a Woodlawn graduate. She says this new program is giving students an opportunity she wished she could have had."As a product of this system, I always got those questions like you went to Woodlawn High School, how are you doing in college? I think this will give a positive outlook to our community," Myeisha Hutchinson, a Woodlawn neighborhood president said.The board will vote on the consolidations May 7th and on May 14th, the accredidation body will evaluatie the board. Plus, it will finalize specifics on layoffs. Dr. Richardson says if the board can pass a budget by September, he will recommend the state turn control back over to the Board ending the state takeover.