The Alabama Department of Education will take over the Birmingham school system on Wednesday after the Birmingham Board of Education tonight declined to pass a cost-cutting plan.

After months of stalling and delaying a state financial plan that included mass layoffs, the Birmingham Board of Education officially rejected it tonight.

State Superintendent Tommy Bice said during a telephone interview tonight—after a more than three-hour Birmingham school board meeting—that he will formally intervene in the district’s operations Wednesday morning. The intervention will include the appointment of a chief executive officer and chief financial officer who will run the day-to-day operations of the district.

“Because of the resolution that was passed by the state Board of Education, we will begin full intervention tomorrow,” Bice said. The state school board authorized Bice nearly two weeks ago to intervene in Birmingham’s operations if it failed to pass a financial plan at tonight’s board meeting.

Immediately following the 4-4 vote, in which board members Edward Maddox, Tyrone Belcher, Virginia Volker and Emanuel Ford voted against the plan and April Williams abstained, the board voted 5-4 to direct its attorneys to “protect the interests of the board.”

Former state Superintendent Ed Richardson, who is leading a state investigation into the district’s finances, academics and board governance, said the board’s threat of a lawsuit will not slow the intervention process.

“Financial intervention has occurred 12 or 15 times,” he said. “The process has clearly been established. This is not something new.”

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Dozens of people spoke out against the plan before the vote, saying the cuts proposed hurt the classroom despite the state’s assurances that cuts would be as far away from the classroom as possible.

Most speakers were employees whose jobs would have been eliminated.

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[Editor’s Note: According to the 2010 Census, Birmingham is 73.4% black and 22.3% white. This article, which is worth reading in its entirety, notes that enrollment in Birmingham schools is 98% black.]

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