Community meeting on Birmingham Schools savings plan

People had their say Monday night about a plan to close or consolidate Birmingham Schools.

They{}filled out questions on note cards and those questions did not hold back. They ranged from why not eliminate the superintendent's position to save money.. to concerns over sending younger students into high school.

"Save it, save it." Many Daniel Payne Middle School students don't want to go to high school early. But it could happen. Their school is one of three middle schools that could close in phase two of the school savings plan. 7th grader, Chasity King, says "I am afraid of bullying because those kids are a lot older than us"

"The kids are not at the appropriate age." Parents like Yetta Edison could express those feelings Monday night. "I would like them to send all the Middle School Kids to Daniel Payne Middle School."

After presentations about the proposed plan, which would close 7 schools, consolidate 11 and eliminate 133 positions, the crowd submitted questions. Many are worried about over-population in schools, safety and transportation.

Superintendent Craig Witherspoon says a lot of thought has gone into this plan, especially moving some 7th and 8th graders into high schools. "The 7th and 8th graders would be separated and it's a school within a school model, so it would have its own administration and own staff that would be in one location."

He says there are benefits to a 7-12 configuration. Studies have shown an increase in academic achievement. Dr. Ed Richardson told people the plan is necessary because the district has lost around 12,000 students in the last ten years and there are now 14,000 empty seats within existing school buildings. "We'll listen and if there's something we feel like warrants consideration we'll look over it this week."

Another meeting is planned for Tuesday at Huffman High School and the third will be Wednesday at Jackson Olin High School. They begin at six. Next Tuesday, Dr. Richardson is expected to make a final recommendation on the plan before the board takes a vote.