New BOE members look ahead

Newly-elected District 5 representative Randall Woodfin. (

Following Tuesday night's municipal elections, there are plenty of new faces on the Birmingham Board of Education.

Just three candidates retained their seats on the board while six other districts welcomed new representatives.

Randall Woodfin took down Martha Casey McDowell to claim the District 5 seat, and Sandra Brown upended incumbent Emanuel Ford in the District 9 race. Both say they have seen enough of the governance issues and other problems that led to Birmingham City Schools being placed on accredited probation.

At the conclusion of the runoff elections in Districts 1, 4 and 6, it will be time for the new board to roll up its sleeves and get to work.{}

Brown says it's a new day. "I feel that the people of Birmingham have finally came to life," she says. "It has to be a new day, look at how many new board members you have."Woodfin says the shakeup shows that parents wanted to be heard. "The whole entire community rejected this whole idea of bad leadership," he says.Both Brown and Woodfin believe they are ready for the task at hand. Both received training offered by the state and the Birmingham Business Alliance, which focused on board governance, ethics and finance. "I'll know not to step out of line, because I've already had this training. And I will know what I can and cannot do," says Brown.

Woodfin says, "In understanding my role, I'm confident that future colleagues, we'll all understand our role and we will be more than willing to stay in our lane and do what's in the best interest of the system."

District 8 representative April Williams is one of the three incumbents who kept their seats, and she's anxious to work with the new members and believes the board has already made improvements since being placed on probation.

"I know we will far exceed expectations of AdvancEd, when we get to the other side of state intervention, moving from probation to clear we will be a better, stronger school district," she says.Dr. Ed Richardson, who was appointed as chief financial officer by the state, offers this analogy: "It's a like a team, you have new players come in on your team and they have to blend in and we have to make sure we are clearly focused on objectives," Richardson explains. "I would think you're going to see this new team come together, orient, start to work together, focus on the major objectives and hopefully you'll see some real progress."

The new cast of BOE members -- old and new-- will go through an orientation period and an outlining of objectives, mainly in an effort to get the system off accredited probation.