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Birmingham City Councilor Valerie Abbott Continues to Push Community Involvement as a Primary Development Measure within Birmingham City School System

Education development is always a key factor when helping sustainable cities thrive. Recent studies show that in order to accomplish sustainable urban development, long-term planning should include measures to address social issues by collaborating with community efforts to improve education, public safety and overall quality of life. Birmingham City Councilor Valerie Abbott joined council colleagues to address education concerns during a recent Education Committee Meeting with Birmingham Board of Education Superintendent Dr. Kelly Castlin-Gacutan (Dr. G) to gain an understanding of the school systems’ immediate needs and also discuss practical solutions for development.

“I was very encouraged by our meeting with Dr. G and Dr. Sullivan being that our primary goal right now is to increase communications and instill a stronger partnership between the City Council and the Board of Education,” Councilor Abbott said. “We are starting at ground zero. Although it appears to be an easy task we have to engage everyone in order to have an impact, and that is not always quite as easy.”

During the meeting, Dr. G provided a snapshot of the school board’s latest Strategic Plan revisions, a new reading initiative and the status of the board’s ongoing financial challenges. In addition, Birmingham City Councilors were asked for their participation to help stress the need for students to enroll in school now instead of after Labor Day. With previous concerns of Birmingham City School’s after-school programs possibly closing this upcoming school year, Birmingham City Councilors also addressed ways to ensure the programs resumed and continue in the years ahead.

“Obviously, in order to ensure that after-school care continues, we have to continue to provide funding assistance, but we need to go further,” Councilor Abbott said. “It would be a very good idea to meet with Mayor Bell and come up with a 3-5 year plan to provide additional funding for our city schools and to ramp up our support over time. Every year we are faced with far more needs than funds and we have to prioritize, but Birmingham’s schools are absolutely critical to making our city a place where people want to live.”

Councilor Abbott added that in order for the City of Birmingham to achieve major improvements in educational outcomes, the city government, Board of Education along with the business community and the community at large (even those who don’t have school-aged children) will need to get behind the school system and push. “Everyone in the community can play a role in improving our schools, but for the City Council, the single most important thing we must do is stay engaged and involved,” Councilor Abbott said. “That will require communication, commitment, and action.  We can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines.”


This article is a contribution from Chiara Perry ( in the Birmingham City Council Public Information Office. For more information please contact 205.254.2294.