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Birmingham Schools Meet First Part of State Deadline

Local System Submits A Detailed Staff-Reduction Plan

At center right, state superintendent Tommy Bice and state board member Yvette Richardson (burgundy jacket) look on with concern at the April Birmingham school board meeting that first triggered state involvement. Photo by Dan Carsen.

By Dan Carsen, June 22, 2012

The Birmingham School system today submitted a detailed cost-cutting plan, fulfilling the first part of a state-mandated deadline.

Though sources said compiling the latest plan, which includes significant administrative staff cuts, was intensely difficult, an even bigger challenge may await. The local school board -- which has been plagued by infighting on issues far less complicated and emotional than discharging staff -- must approve at least part of the cost-cutting plan at its meeting on Tuesday. If not, the Alabama State Department of Education will likely take control of the district's finances.

Deputy State Superintendent Craig Pouncey said Birmingham Superintendent Craig Witherspoon has been in direct communication with the local board in preparation for Tuesday's vote. School officials would not share names on the latest iteration of the cost-cutting plan, at least before Tuesday's meeting, which Dr. Ed Richardson will attend. Richardson is the leader of the team investigating Birmingham schools since April.

Pouncey and other sources said the local board will likely receive a two-part proposal. The one to be voted on Tuesday includes various cost-cutting measures; the one to be voted on the following week will include the exact positions to be eliminated from the central office. Complicated contractual and tenure requirements are one reason for the slower timeline for the second part of the plan.