Birmingham City Schools enter leasing agreements with two popular churches

Members of Church of the Highlands West Campus have Sunday service at Parker High School. Photo by Church of the Highlands

Earlier this year Church of the Highlands announced its expansion to west Birmingham.

Since the announcement, the Church of the Highlands West Birmingham Campus has been having community meetings to help start the process of building the new location. But before their new location is complete, they want to start building a community and begin regular Sunday services.

Before September 9th, West Campus didn’t have a place of worship. On August 28th at the Birmingham Board of Education work session the Director of Operations entered into a 3-year contract and a 2 year renewable agreement without the board’s vote. 

 

Praise and Worship leader leads Sunday service at Parker High School. Photo by Church of the Highlands

It’s important to note that over three years ago the Woodlawn campus entered into a lease agreement that was recently up for renegotiation.  The Birmingham City Schools Board of Education extended their lease for another year, in conjunction to entering a new leasing agreement with West Campus at Parker High School. 

Originally, the agreement with West Campus wasn’t something that the Birmingham City Schools Board of Education were privy to. Birmingham BOE President Cheri Gardner told WBRC that the district’s operations director “acted outside the scope of his duties” when he entered into a three-year $2,500 lease agreement with the Church of the Highlands to use space at Parker High School for Sunday services.

Prior to entering the leasing agreement, Church of the Highlands West Campus was in a two week facility usage agreement. There is a defined difference between a facility usage agreement and a leasing agreement.

On the Birmingham City Schools website it states:

Community organizations are encouraged to make use of school property in accordance with the goals and intent of the board. The K-12 school program will have first claim on public school facilities at all times. Use of buildings and grounds by others must be approved in writing by the superintendent or designee. Use of school property will be in accordance with regulations established by the superintendent.”

Members of Church of the Highlands West Campus have Sunday service at Parker High School. Photo by Church of the Highlands

On September 11th the school board voted for the leases of Church of the Highlands and Iron City Church. Church of the Highlands has been approved to use Parker and Woodlawn High Schools, and Iron City will use Ramsay High School.

Some board members felt that the process was rushed and could have been more transparent.

Members of Church of the Highlands West Campus have Sunday service at Parker High School. Photo by Church of the Highlands

Daagye Hendricks, a Birmingham BOE board member says,

“As we make these decisions, we have to be fair in terms of being transparent on both ends. And this did not have to be problematic if it was done in decency and in order.”

Do you think Church of the Highlands leasing from Birmingham City Schools is helpful to the city of Birmingham?

 

Author: Cody Short

Lover of story telling. Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama.