Tag Archives: Craig Witherspoon

Witherspoon to share state of city schools, tax increase proposal

Craig Witherspoon speaking at TechFridayBirmingham City Schools superintendent Craig Witherspoon‘s been answering a lot of questions about the current state of the school system in recent weeks.

This photo was taken on Friday morning, May 11, during his remarks at the monthly TechFriday event at Innovation Depot downtown. Earlier in the week he’d appeared with Mayor William Bell at the first of three community meetings where he’s updating parents and concerned citizens about the state of the school system and plans for its future. It’s also been an opportunity for him to explain his proposal for raising property taxes in the city by 3 mills (generating approximately $9 million/year).

Witherspoon will be holding two more of those informational meetings this week. Monday evening, May 14, will take place at the Davis Center, 417 29th St. S. (between Pepper Place and the Lakeview commercial district). Tuesday evening, May 15, will take place at the Don Hawkins Recreation Center, 8920 Roebuck Blvd. with Mayor Bell once again participating and talking about his bond proposal. Both meetings start at 6 p.m.

Welcome aboard Witherspoon

Craig WitherspoonCall it an initiation rite. Birmingham’s new school superintendent, Craig Witherspoon, sat quietly through his first school board meeting Tuesday. Mostly, he just watched. He watched as board members Virginia Volker and Emanuel Ford grilled the child nutrition director on a $57,702 bid for sliced meat. Ford requested that the meats be housed in a variety of breads. You know, something other than the standard bun. Spencer Taylor, the child nutrition director, agreed. There would be wraps and flatbreads, he said. Volker had another concern. “Can we go easy on the salami?”

Taylor assured her that the board has historically used turkey salami. Volker’s face lit up, clearly surprised. The item passed.

Recent articles by The Birmingham News have noted that no school district in the state has shelled out as much dough as the Birmingham system–$1.5 million last year–on legal fees. The board retains two law firms, and let’s just say that at the board meetings, attorneys take up substantial real estate near the dais.

Board member April Williams said that while there may be a small army of lawyers in attendance at each meeting, the board pays for only one attorney from one firm each meeting. The board meets twice a month. Tom Stewart, of the firm Waldrep, Stewart & Kendrick, said that his firm, one of the two representing the board, doesn’t attend committee meetings unless asked by the board. Then only the firm that was invited bills the board. As for the new superintendent’s welcome reception last night, where revelers grumbled that the attorneys present were getting paid, Stewart corrected, “We did not get paid.” They attended, he said, because they wanted to.