State Supt. Bice commended at school board meeting

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Tuesday, the Birmingham School Board held its first meeting since a judge ruled that the state takeover of the system is valid and that the board could not fire its superintendent.

The system, which is now being run by the state, has had some dramatic meetings over the past few months as board members tried to get rid of Superintendent Craig Witherspoon.  However, there were no obvious signs of turmoil Tuesday. At the end of the meeting two board members paused to thank Bice for the work he has done.

"I do appreciate your leadership," Emmanuel Ford said.

When asked to respond to the judge's ruling, board member Virginia Volker said she was not prepared to comment.

"We have to meet with our lawyers and get the details we haven't had time to do that," Volker said.

Bice and Witherspoon said the meeting was productive.  Many items were approved including the hiring and rehiring of several faculty and staff.

"Certified staff quite a few people brought back. Eight to 10 classified staff," Bice said.

Bice says there is still work to be done before classes begin next week. "Filling teaching slots that still remain open.  There are still 12 that will need to be filled by Monday," he said.

Some of those are math and science positions.  Bice says he will personally see to it that the new hires for such important jobs are well-qualified.  He also hopes to see future meetings conducted like the one on Tuesday

"Our hope is we can continue to have meetings like tonight.  Productive meetings where work gets done and students are the focus," Bice said.

There was no time at Tuesday's meeting for public comment.  Bice says at their next meeting there will be a portion for the community voice.  He also hopes to increase student presence at board meetings.

As for the judge's ruling that board president Edward Maddox does not live in the district that he serves, which is grounds for removal from the board, Bice says it's not up to the state to deal with that.

"It definitely is not the state department.  He's elected and he's elected because the city of Birmingham chose to have a school board so that would fall back on the city to make those sorts of decisions," Bice said.

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