Parents and teachers react to school consolidation

A dwindling student population and financial constraints means that 2 Birmingham schools face consolidation. North Birmingham Elementary will close by August. Those students and teachers will be housed at Lewis Elementary and{}that's not sitting well with teachers and parents. Wednesday night they told district leaders just what they think.

{}"I'm in limbo. What am I to do, Dr. Witherspoon?" a teacher asked during the public meeting.{}

"Why is it they can't rebuild a new school before they close down a school?" a parent asked.

Both teachers and parents filled the Lewis Elementary cafeteria to learn about the consolidation. Teacher's main concern? {}Time.

"They should give us another year to get in there and get our things together and get packed up by the end of this coming school year and merge with Lewis," a teacher at North Birmingham said. "I don't have a problem coming to Lewis but it's just like she said, the way it's done. It's just unfair."

District leaders say, the merger is being expedited to accommodate the financial recovery plan {}saving $300,000.

"The thought was, let's go ahead and accelerate this consolidation so that we could realize this particular savings and possibly avoid cuts in other areas," Dr. Craig Witherspoon, Birmingham Superintendent said.

Parents like Nicole McClain, say after this announcement they're in the market for another district.

"One old school into another old school - I don't support this," McClain said.

Dr. Witherspoon says the teachers at North Birmingham will join the staff at Lewis - no layoffs are expected. And class sizes won't change.{}

"Consolidation does not mean larger class sizes," Dr. Witherspoon said. "We will still use the same divisors and staffing sizes we would use anyway."

Dr. Witherspoon says the cost to consolidate was part of the original capital plan. Because of the early merger, the district plans to build the new campus a year earlier starting in 2014. But that step hinges on the results of an EPA air quality study.