Author: Nikhita Mudium
The Birmingham City Council has approved a $1 million budget allocation to expand student mental healthcare services in Birmingham City Schools.
Birmingham’s school district has already partnered with multiple mental health agencies, including Work in Progress and Jefferson-Blount-St. Clair (JBS) Mental Health Authority. The latter provides in-school crisis services in addition to the already implemented rotations of child psychologists, social workers and counselors for students.
“We recognize the importance of ensuring that the whole child is being taught,” said Dr. Mark Sullivan, superintendent of Birmingham City Schools. “Kids can’t learn how to read and write if they have underlying health issues, whether that’s physical or mental.”
The funds are also aimed at providing additional resources and training for teachers to recognize and understand how personal or home problems manifest in students’ school behavior — a measure that the council brought up before.
“I’ve seen how many of them would be deemed a bad child, but really they just have problems at home,” said Councilor Crystal Smitherman of District 6.
Later in the meeting, the council also approved the expenditure of $100,000 to purchase tickets for the opening home game at UAB’s new Protective Stadium.
The tickets will go to residents, youth groups and others who are unable to afford the price of game day tickets. Through games held at the stadium, the city hopes to foster community engagement and connections between college students and younger community members. Gamegoers are also the primary source of income for the stadium and its maintenance, thus presenting an economic opportunity, according to the council.
However, many residents, along with Councilor Steven Hoyt of District 8 and Councilor Valerie Abbott of District 3, agree that Birmingham has fulfilled its responsibility to UAB by already funding the stadium.
“The taxpayers are the ones who are footing this bill; it’s not you and me; it’s not the mayor. It’s the taxpayers of Birmingham,” Abbott said. “They’re the ones who keep telling us during our campaigns that they want their streets paved and their sidewalks fixed and their sewers cleaned out, and the traffic control and the police to come when they call, and actually do something.”
According to the council, UAB has been consistently ignoring many black communities in Birmingham when it comes to healthcare and sustaining black businesses. Councilor Abbott believes that purchasing tickets is not the best use of the money when the council’s responsibility is to address the concerns their constituents highlighted.
“We should be providing our services to our citizens first, and if we’re incapable of providing those services, then we should not be spending money on other things until we do our jobs,” Abbott said.
In other news, the Council also passed the following:
– Two-week delay for revocation of Club Euphoria’s license
– Amendment to D-3’s designation from Single-Family District to Light Manufacturing District on the city zoning map