Wednesday, May 22 2013 10:21 AM EDT2013-05-22 14:21:28 GMT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WBRC) -
The state school board officially approved the takeover of Birmingham schools at a meeting in Montgomery Thursday afternoon.
Dr. Tommy Bice said Thursday he feels very passionate about getting this right, especially for a system that affects so many families.
"That's my driving force. There are 25,000 students and their families and the Birmingham area in general that are waiting on somebody to make a decision so we can get this system moving forward," Bice said.
And Bice says the first tough decision is how much to delay the start of school. Bice says not being able to make cost cutting moves until July means school in Birmingham will have to be delayed at least a week.
Beyond that, he's frustrated by the only-in-Birmingham policy that allows school system administrators to keep their pay for a year even if they're pushed back into the classroom or a lesser role.
This policy, along with the amount of budget cuts needed, are making the state's job even harder as they prepare a new staffing plan for the school system's central office.
The state won't be able to access about $750,000 in savings until next year unless they find legal backing to change that policy now.
"The sooner that policy's off the plate, the sooner it can be applied in these decisions," Bice said.
In the meantime, Bice says the state is moving 57 administrators from the central office into lower jobs, and 42 of those employees will go back into schools.
To compare the excess of administrators, Bice compared Birmingham with Shelby County. Shelby schools (28,000 students) have one administrator for every 124 students whereas Birmingham schools (25,000 students) have one administrator for every 20 students.
However, one thing is not changing: the superintendent.
"The...thing they need there now, whether it's Craig Witherspoon or whoever it might be, is some stability there to get through this and then it'll be their decision," Bice said.
Bice says he's hoping the Birmingham Board of Education will decide to cooperate with the state and he points to the recent state intervention in midfield as an example.
"They're gonna end up being a model for what this can do, if we can get that kind of cooperation and collaboration in Birmingham, what could we do?" Bice said.
Dr. Bice says the state will begin looking at new calendar options for Birmingham schools next week.