The superintendent of the Birmingham city schools system wants a tax increase to continue development of the Birmingham school system and implement unfunded programs.
At a Wednesday committee of the whole meeting, Birmingham city schools Superintendent Craig Witherspoon asked the Birmingham City Council for a referendum for a three mill tax increase for Birmingham city schools. Were the council to approve that referendum, it would appear on the November ballot for approval by voters. Witherspoon said he expects the increase to raise about $9 million.
“We’re moving forward with several initiatives. The international baccalaureate—we want to continue to expand that in multiple schools across the district,” Witherspoon told Weld. “Pre-K, we know we have a large need to increase the number of pre-K programs. The state has a wonderful pre-K curriculum and standards, but it’s not funded.” Witherspoon said the tax increase would also be used to expand foreign language programs in elementary and middle schools and to fund fine arts.
Several councilors asked if the request for a tax increase had anything to do with charter school legislation which is currently under consideration in the Alabama legislature. Birmingham Mayor William Bell, who was also at the meeting, said it did not.
“Let me be clear with the council and the public, this request has nothing to do with charter schools,” Bell said. “The request we’re making today is strictly for Birmingham public schools.”