State approves consolidation of several Birmingham schools


Financial strains are leaving several Birmingham City Schools empty. Tuesday night, the school board met to discuss consolidating schools, adjusting schedules and employees. Those are cuts the system must make to reach it's {}state required one month operating reserve. Most board members voted not to consolidate schools, but because they are under state control, they didn't have much choice. Here are the changes: Norwood Elementary will move to Lewis Elementary. Jackson Elementary will move to the Hemphill campus. {}During a 3 hour meeting, board members debated where to move the Lewis and Norwood students, but deciding where they should go had it's own challenges. Either students would relocate to the Kirby campus which is facing a serious sewer problem - or they would go to Lewis - which is located in the North Birmingham community - one known for air quality issues. All board members voted no. But State Appointed Chief Financial Officer, Dr. Ed Richardson {}approved the consolidation to the Lewis campus. Most of the board also voted against consolidating Jackson Elementary to Hemphill Elementary - but Dr. Richardson authorized those changes. He says the reason he had to override the board was because time is of the essence. With school ending in a few weeks, students, families, and teachers need to know where they will be holding class next Fall. "It would have been better if we could have approved everything tonight to give the team a chance," Dr. Ed Richardson, State Appointed Chief Financial Officer said. "Last year if you remember, it was chaotic if you were around when we did this because they waited so long before we got started. As a result, we lost some very good teachers and we never recovered all year. Schedules were not ready when school started. Schedules will be ready when school starts this time. People are going to know where they will be assigned and have that assurance - I've got a job, I know where I'm going to be."The board also delayed the vote {}to change Jones Valley to a K-8 campus. That decision will be up for discussion May 13th during a community meeting. Also next week, {}the board will decide exactly how to re-structure teachers and administrators who are a part of the consolidation during the next regular meeting on May14th.