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What to Know Before Birmingham Schools Open Aug. 8

Ameera Steward
The Birmingham Times

Birmingham City Schools begin the 2019 fall semester on August 8 and Superintendent Lisa Herring said administrators and teachers are looking forward to an exciting year.

“We want parents to know that we are preparing for an exciting experience, positive experiences for all of our scholars as they return,” she said. “We know that they’ve had an eventful summer, but we miss them and…we’re ready to receive them.”

Herring said there is still time for registration and “that is certainly a priority.” There are multiple chances for parents to register their child before the first day on the district app [Birmingham City Schools], the district’s website [bhamcityschools.org], or where the students attends school.

Steps have also been taken to reduce the teacher shortage which has plagued many districts across the nation, she said.

“With school starting August 8 we have less than 12 teacher vacancies,” Herring said. “That is humongous for us. We’re proud of the work that our staff has put in…we still want to get those remaining…vacancies filled.”

BCS has offered teacher incentives of $5,000 signing bonuses in critical needs areas such as special education, foreign language, and math and science, she said.

“That’s important to us, we want our teachers to know that they’re valued, we’re prepared to do new teacher orientation…but we want to make sure that we have a qualified teacher in every classroom,” she said.

Herring also pointed out the value of school bus drivers and filling vacancies in that area.

“Our bus drivers are actually the first face for every scholar as they start the day,” she said. “It is a wonderful opportunity for someone to consider school bus driver roles as a second job even. We need them early morning and of course at the end of the day, and we also recognize the power to influence the learning environment even as a bus driver.” More information can be found on the district website [bhamcityschools.org].

The board also recently passed new zoning and feeder patterns which means elementary, K-8, middle and high schools now have a very distinct feeder, she said. “So, as you’re moving from elementary, middle to high you’ll know your feeder school with the exception of specialty schools,” Herring said.

With the six distinct feeder patterns the school system is excited about what that means for the academic transition “and the ability for us to have a sense of . . . connectiveness within our community.

“So, it’s a positive for us,” she said. “That’s also why it’s important for parents and scholars to know their school of attendance.” More information can be found at bhmcityschools.org. Parents and students can see the “feeder pattern and zoning” tab and plug in their address.

The system will also open the first Bush Hills STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) Academy on August 8.

“It is an opportunity for us to provide unique, innovative learning opportunities, not just from the teacher delivery standpoint but especially for our scholars,” Herring said. “We’ve also found that across the community we’ve had partners pushing in, so this is going to be a celebratory day not just for our school but for our school system.”

Herring said the Bush Hills Academy could be replicated across the district. “It is exciting in the area of innovation, obviously from the STEAM concept, and we are looking forward to our official designation of Busch Bush Hills STEAM Academy being one of the few in the state of Alabama that holds that recognition,” she said.

5-Year Strategic Plan

Birmingham City Schools Superintendent Lisa Herring said the system’s five-year strategic plan with four specific pillars remains something “we are measuring, and we want to be held accountable for.”

Herring said, Pillar One is student success: “This year we’re very intentional around being laser focused on what’s happening in the classroom, how we support our teachers, but also how we help empower our scholars.”

Pillar Two is tied to stakeholder trust: “We want to ensure that all of our stakeholders are having good experiences whether they’re internal or external as we do this work.”

Pillar Three is tied to excellence: “We want to do our work, but we want to do it well.”

Pillar Four is affective systems and planning: “It’s easy to highlight the pillars but the labor is in the work. I want all of our constituents to know that we maintain our commitment to that and that we want to continue to see excellence throughout our school system.”

“There is something exciting about the first days of school and the start of a new school year,” Herring said. “Without question we’re excited in Birmingham City Schools about this next school year but we’re also excited about the opportunity that it provides not just to our scholars and our teachers and our staff but to our community.”