The Birmingham Board of Education (BBOE) is trying to collect as much community input as possible as it begins its search for a new superintendent. (Current Birmingham City Schools superintendent Craig Witherspoon announced his resignation — effective at the end of the calendar year — in October). Election Day saw pieces published by both AL.com and Weld for Birmingham about how the BBOE intended to accomplish this via public meetings at six area high schools and an anonymous online survey (open until November 16).
It’s now been followed up with a guest opinion by BBOE president Randall Woodfin published to AL.com late Friday morning.
The effort is a partnership between BBOE and the Alabama Association of School Boards. Clicking on the name of one of the six district high schools that follows will take you to a PDF showing the current full schedule of meeting times and where they will take place on campus.
Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014
Woodlawn High School
Huffman High School
Jackson-Olin High School
Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014
Wenonah High School
Parker High School (for Parker and Ramsay)
Carver High School
The schedules currently call for two times being set for parents and interested members of the community to stop by and participate: a morning session from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.; and an evening session from 6 – 7 p.m. The schedules also include times to get feedback from members of student council as well as certified and support staff for the schools. The flyers do state that the meetings are for those high schools as well as “the elementary and middle schools which feed it.”
Call 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.