Birmingham School Board votes on school closings

The Birmingham School Board has approved an updated list of schools set to close in the district. Here's a list of seven schools slated to close this Summer. The board also approved a reduction in force.

Before an important vote at the Birmingham Board of Education Tuesday, Children and adults protested in Linn Park. The message: don't shut the doors of our schools. But following the swearing-in of new board member, Wardine Alexander, it was down to business.

After a presentation by Dr. Ed Richardson on recommended changes. All Board members, except Phyllis Wyne, voted in favor of closing seven schools and six administrative sites. Wyne was upset that Lewis Elementary was added to the list. "I feel the people I represent were treated unfairly. They were put on the chopping block at the very last minute. The principal didn't even know the school was slated to close."

Dr. Ed Richardson says Lewis and Norwood Elementary school may consolidate to Kirby Middle School.. which is closed. But, if engineers don't find it suitable to re-open, Lewis could remain open. "It was something that developed late. There was no adequate discussion, people in the community were surprised. That was not my intention."

But there was some relief for many parents with other decisions. Parent Jerry Tate says "From the looks of the plan, it looks like they took a lot of input from the community into consideration. It didn't look like everyone was pleased, but I think they made a good faith effort."

Tate is happy more students won't be moving to Phillips Academy. The board voted not to move any 7th and 8th graders into high school.. which was originally proposed. Along with the school closings. Board members also voted on fewer job cuts. 71 layoffs of school employees and 19 layoffs at Central Office. Richardson says "At the end of the year, we think there will be adequate positions to handle most everyone affected by the rift."

Besides the school closings, consolidations were also voted on.

The schools that are closing include: Center Street Middle, Councill K-5, Daniel Payne Middle, Hemphill PreK-5, Lewis Elementary, Norwood K-5, North Roebuck K-5.

Consolidations are as follows: Bush Middle becomes Bush K8, Oxmoor K8 to open Oxmoor K5, South Hampton K5 become a K8, Carver and Woodlawn will remain 9-12.

Richardson says the phase 2 plan will end up saving the district around 6 million dollars. Around 8 million was saved during Phase 1 of the reduction plan.