By Anita Debro
Special to the Birmingham Times
Birmingham City Schools (BCS) Superintendent Lisa Herring has the system going in the right direction, but she wants more. She wants the system to become a “Force for Greatness.”
That was the message Herring delivered during her inaugural State of the Schools address at the Lyric Theatre in July. Speaking to the public, as well as several city officials, including Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, school board members, and school employees, she said, “We may not be perfect, but we are perfectly focused … on what we need to do.”
The first day of classes for BCS is August 6.
During her address, the superintendent, who was named to the position on May 3, 2017, proudly acknowledged the system’s recent accomplishments, including the first-time-ever earning of full systemwide accreditation; a successful district reorganization; implementation of a standards-based evaluation plan; a partnership with the Birmingham Police Department to develop a safety plan for the district; and first-class, certified pre-kindergarten classrooms.
The steps toward becoming a “Force for Greatness” include a five-year strategic plan that addresses four key areas for development for BCS.
- Student Success. Push the system’s kindergarten readiness to 87 percent from 77 percent, increase the four-year graduation rate to 90 percent from 77 percent, and increase student attendance to 85 percent from 77 percent—all by 2023.
- Team Excellence. Improve teacher coaching and professional development in hopes of increasing teacher retention rate to 90 percent from 84 percent.
- Stakeholder Trust. Build trust in the system among parents, students, and community members by improving communication so all stakeholders are more engaged in the system and have a greater impact on decision making.
- Systems and Planning. Increase enrollment to 25,000 by 2023; the system now has 24,290 students, according to the strategic plan presentation.
“We’ve started the process by building a very strong focus around students first and instructional leadership,” said Herring.
The strategic plan must be approved by the school board, which is expected to receive additional input from school system partners and discuss the initiative at its August 22 meeting.
“Every single child scholar is depending on us to get this right,” Herring said.