The State Board of Education voted Thursday to approve a resolution authorizing level-one intervention in the Birmingham City School system. This triggers financial oversight and personnel to assist with a financial recovery plan for the system.
“We’re at the point this back and forth political posturing has got to stop. There are children involved. There are teachers waiting. The whole school system is on hold,” state superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice told board members before the vote. (Source, Birmingham News.)
School systems are required to keep at least one month’s operating expenses in a reserve fund. Birmingham has about $2 million of the $17 million required. It will also lose $6 million in state funding next year because of declining enrollment.
Thirty school systems in the state failed to meet the required reserve funds and each were required to send a local board-approved plan to the state by May 1 and to take the actions required to build sufficient reserves. Birmingham was the only district in the state to miss that deadline according to Dr. Bice.
The Birmingham board turned in a basic outline of a plan, but missed several deadlines to provide and implement specifics. The State Department of Education extended Birmingham’s deadline but the board failed to take the actions required to implement their proposed plan.
According to Dr. Bice, level one intervention is specifically aimed at making sure the financial plan the city school board approved earlier this week is implemented. The plan could save the district about $12.3 million the first year through personnel cuts, primarily at the central office, and closing North Birmingham Elementary School. But the board must still identify positions to be eliminated and approve the actual personnel actions by June 26.
If the board does not approve the personnel actions associated with the plan, Dr. Bice stated that full intervention would take place and tiers two and three of the intervention plan would be implemented.
Tier two allows Dr. Bice to take direct control of the fiscal operations of the school district. Tier three authorizes him to appoint a chief financial officer to the city school district, who will remain until sound fiscal condition is restored.
Click here for video report of the state board’s action from the ABC television affiliate in Birmingham.