New leadership: meet the new superintendent for Jefferson County Schools

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Walter Gonsoulin has made history by becoming the first African-American permanent superintendent for Jefferson County Schools in its 200-year existence. He joined Anchor Alissa Rothermich this morning to discuss his appointment and his hopes for the Jefferson County School system.

“It means a lot to me. I am honored to be in this space. I know it means a lot to the people of Birmingham,” said Gonsoulin.

Gonsoulin was previously superintendent of Fairfield City Schools for over five years.

“Many of the things we did then are some of the things we are transferring over. For example, doing our listening tours, listening to our community, our faculty, our staff, and our student body. And putting a plan together for the people that we are serving,” said Gonsoulin.

Jefferson County is slated to build seven new schools and do major renovations for nine other schools. The $300 million is a capital plan for the next three years.

“It’s going to change the complexity of the district,” Gonsoulin said, “We are building new schools and putting our students in a place where we can offer extracurricular activities. We are opening up academies, biomedical academies, cybersecurity academies.”

State education officials recently released the list of failing schools in the state. One of the schools is Center Point High, which is under the Jefferson County school system.

“We are being very intentional with what we’re doing. We have met with faculty and staff and come up with a plan to improve achievement and look at chronic absenteeism. They have grown over the last three years, they started at a 60% and now they’re at a 68%. With continuous improvement, we will get off that list,” Gonsoulin said.

To learn more about Jefferson County Schools, click here.


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