Major challenges await Birmingham's new school board

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - After last night's election results, 5 of the Birmingham school board's 9 seats will be filled by newcomers.

But there is little time for a learning curve with 3 major challenges facing the school system.

By defeating incumbents or filling vacant seats, here are the five newcomers:

District 1- Tyrone Belcher, Sr.

District 3- Brian Giattina

District 4-Edward Maddox

District 5-Emanuel Ford

District 7-Alana Edwards

And when they face massive challenges when they take office. They include cutting the systems already bare-bones budget by 7.5% after proration, hiring a new superintendent to run the system, and implementing a new strategic plan.

Current superintendent, Barbara Allen, admits bringing a majority of the board up to speed is a challenge. "I'm concerned, but we already have work session in place to make sure they're informed as to what's going on, and my staff will give them an overview of what's going on. So we're excited about it," Allen said.

"We hopefully have a lot more information," Board President April Williams added. "The orientation session we have planned is a lot more than we had when we came on."

Williams remembers when the current board took office 8 years ago. All but one of the members were new. She says the lesson learned there is to make sure new members feel like they have an equal say.

"We want to ensure they have a sense of ownership of all of those processes and it's not the old board versus the new board, it's us working together to achieve success for Birmingham City Schools," Williams said.

That includes 23-year old Alana Edwards.

"I woke up this morning and it was like ok, this is real now, it's time to get to work. What's the first step? And it's so much work to do, it's like where do you start?" Edwards said.

Edwards says figuring out the budget is priority number 1. She's not intimidated to work with a board whose average age will be more like that of her parents.

"Age is not the problem, it's about maturity," Edwards said.

The school system has a 2-day crash course for new board members to bring them up to speed on what their job, and where the school system's budget stands.

The board is expected to start interviewing candidates for its new superintendent job in November.