No combining middle, high schools in new Birmingham closure proposal

Gigi Beasley, President of the Carver High School PTSA, is pleased with the latest Birmingham school consolidation plan. (

The concerns of parents appears to have made a difference. Revisions were announced Friday to a proposed closure and consolidation plan for the Birmingham school system.

The main issue was safety because the original plan called for consolidating some middle schools with high schools, which would put grades 7-through-12-- all under one roof. For instance, middle school students were slated to attend both Woodlawn and Carver High Schools. The original plan also listed seven schools to close, but a revised plan would close six, leaving Putnam Middle School open.

Gigi Beasley says she's a bit better. As president of the Carver High School PTSA,{} she did not want students at Putnam--or any other middle school--attending school with high schoolers.

"How would they be transported? [What about] lunches? Gym time? Certain classes? What would the whole makeup be? I was very concerned," Beasley says.

Three community meetings this week had a lot to do with the new recommendations.

Beasley and other parents voiced safety concerns.

"I know what it is like to have an older child and a younger child and they see things totally different, so those kids are not really able to experience that level of life," she adds.

Superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon says the board is doing its best. It's a cost-saving measure that parents and board members alike must make. The planned closures and reduction in force are geared toward helping the district meet its financial recovery goals. He says each school closure could save the district $300,000.

"The parents are not fighting against the schools, the schools are not fighting against the parents. We are behind them," Beasley says.

Witherspoon says some schools have been modified to extend an take in middle school students, which alleviates the need for them to attend high schools. Witherspoon says the state's chief financial officer Dr. Ed Richardson was notified of the recommendations and is on board. The board plans to vote on this final recommendation Tuesday.