State begins full take over of Birmingham Schools

The Alabama Board of Education started its takeover of Birmingham City Schools Tuesday.{} Dr. Craig Pouncey, deputy state superintendent of education, and Dr. Ed Richardson, former state superintendent, spoke for 35 minutes during a news conference Tuesday morning regarding the implications of a full state intervention.

Dr. Craig Witherspoon will keep his position as Birmingham Schools Superintendent. {}Willie Thomas of Macon County Schools will become CEO of Birmingham Schools if a back-up is needed for Witherspoon. Arthur Watts will stay on as Chief Financial Officer. Dr. Ed Richardson is now the Chief Financial Officer appointed by the State Board of Education. {}Dr. Richardson said, "The average intervention is two years. One year at a minimum. But, it is expected to be longer. "Dr. Craig Pouncey was more frank with his outlook, "It could take four years as things stand right now," he said about the length of time of the state intervention.

Another consequence of the state intervention is a delayed start to the school year in Birmingham.{} State leaders say they recommended delaying the opening of Birmingham schools by three days to two weeks as the school system works through the early stages of the intervention.{} The exact start date has not been determined.

The full intervention comes after the Birmingham Board of Education rejected a financial plan that included mass layoffs.{} During today's news conference Dr. Ed Richardson had stern words for board members saying, "The board may have overreached. We will decide if that has happened."{} He also mentioned that, "Some of the board members need to understand what their purpose is on the board. To provide a first class education for students."