Birmingham City Schools: case study for MPS state takeover

Birmingham City Schools: case study for MPS state takeover
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Acting State Superintendent Dr. Ed Richardson says sweeping changes are ahead for Montgomery Public Schools. The alternative? The district could lose its accreditation.

It's a dire outlook, but it's one he's made before. Consider the state takeover of Birmingham City Schools in 2012 as a case study.

Richardson was appointed to oversee that takeover. Birmingham City Schools and MPS share issues of a similar scope: financial disarray, academic instability, student retention and what Richardson considers undue influence by the board.

On the surface, the plans to turn the districts around are also similar.

Following the State Board of Education meeting, Richardson said his plan would keep teachers in the classroom, and he would propose selling vacant properties and possibly consolidating and closing schools to shore up financial resources.

In 2013, Birmingham's board took Richardson's advice and voted to close schools with the district's accreditation looming. At the time, Richardson praised the board for its tough decision and the show of goodwill to AdvancED, which was closely monitoring the BCS takeover.

AdvancED placed Birmingham on probation, but the nearly two year-long takeover resolved the agency's concerns.

AdvancED will pay MPS a visit later this month at Richardson's request. 

"[AdvancED's] not coming to say you're in trouble right now," Richardson said of the visit to MPS. "He's coming to identify what the formal review of Montgomery will consist of, which will be the next school year."

Richardson will present his plan to the MPS BOE on Jan. 26, AdvancED will meet with MPS on Jan. 30.

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