Birmingham school board member talks about the election to replace her, issues her successor will face

Politics

Students walk down the hallway at Tussahaw Elementary school on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021, in McDonough, Ga. Schools have begun reopening in the U.S. with most states leaving it up to local schools to decide whether to require masks. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) — Birmingham City Schools board member Sandra Brown may be leaving office soon, but she’s still got a lot to say.

Brown, the incumbent board member for district nine, spoke with CBS 42 in an interview about the election to replace her and about the issues that her successor may be forced to face.

Brown is a retired Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama employee that served two terms on the school board. She is not running for re-election.

Le’Darius Hillard and Jason Meadows will face each other in a runoff election to replace Brown on Oct. 5. The two participated in a CBS 42 debate on Tuesday. You can watch the debate in full here.

Brown said that, in her opinion, Meadows would be a better board member.

When asked to elaborate, Brown said that one reason she supports Meadows is because he has kids himself.

When you look at a person that has kids, they have high expectations for their own children,” she said. “And if you want to put certain things for your children, then you would, you shouldn’t want them in poverty. Take for example, I have been in Birmingham City Schools. I went to school in Birmingham. My mother went to school in Birmingham. My kids went to school in Birmingham.”

Her experience is somewhat different than Meadows, though. His children do not attend Birmingham City Schools, something he addressed in Tuesday’s debate when asked about the subject by his opponent. Meadows said his children attend Vestavia East, where his wife is employed. His full answer is in the clip below.

Brown said her support for Meadows isn’t simply about him, but about his opponent.

“When you look at the field, you, Mr. Hilliard has not really been involved in anything with the schools,” Brown said. “And from what I hearing, his agenda, and some of the things he’s saying out in the public, they are not things that a board member can do. There are some things only the superintendent handle. You can go to a superintendent and tell him what you want, to offer suggestions, but one board member can’t do anything, you know, have one vote.

Hilliard addressed the question of his experience in education when asked about it by Meadows.

CBS 42 asked Sandra K. Brown to outline an issue she thinks her successor, whoever it is, will have to face in the coming years on the board.

Her answer? School consolidation.

Well, in the next couple of years, we’re going to be dealing with consolidating and closing the schools if our enrollment does not increase,” she said. “You have to look at a lot of the neighborhoods where the schools are located. People are moving out.”

She said dealing with such consolidations will be a challenge.

“That isn’t a subject the public is going to want to hear,” she said. “Because the majority of the people are going to want to keep the schools open in their particular community or neighborhood.”

In Tuesday’s debate, both candidates seemed reticent to discuss school consolidations.

The runoff elections for all city races, including the district nine school board seat, will be held on Oct. 5.

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