Board approves new supt. and his compensation

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Birmingham has a new superintendent. Despite a last-minute legal challenge, Dr. Craig Witherspoon, Edgecombe County Schools' current leader, will take over the position.

The School Board voted 7-2 to make Dr. Witherspoon the next superintendent, but that was after a few chaotic moments caused by a lawsuit filed by the group, "Citizens for Better Schools."

The group filed a restraining order in an attempt to block the board from voting. However, the group didn't pay the necessary $500 bond, so the order was never made official, and the board was able to vote as planned.

After the official vote, Dr. Witherspoon addressed board members, and said he is excited about the opportunity, and anxious to get to work.

"I plan to do a lot of listening and learning," said Dr. Witherspoon, "Visiting schools, meeting with board members, community members, all those stakeholders, so I can get a good picture of what is going on."

Board President W.J. Maye said he believes Dr. Witherspoon is the perfect person to make the district stronger. "I think this young man is going to do a great job," said Maye, "He is energetic. He is an educator. He knows a lot about education, and he is a child sensitive person."

Opponents involved in the lawsuit claimed Dr. Witherspoon led a failing school district in North Carolina, and the school board has not been open with residents throughout the process.

"We want a change, but we want the right change," said Shelia Tyson, " We need a superintendent, but we need one that will give our kids a quality education, and that is not what they are getting."

Dr. Witherspoon said he feels he left his school district in North Carolina better than when he started. He hopes everyone can put their differences aside, and work together for the benefit of Birmingham.

"We want our students to achieve, and excel," said Dr. Witherspoon, "We want good programs. We want good schools, we all agree on that. There may be different ways on how  to achieve that, but then that is coming to the table and working together to make that happen."

Dr. Witherspoon's 3-year contract includes a base salary of $185,000. The total compensation package of $242,000.

Dr. Witherspoon said he and his family plan to live within Birmingham's city limits. His son will enroll in Birmingham City Schools.