Ex-Chief Hired to Analyze School Security in Birmingham, Ala.

The Birmingham school board Tuesday approved hiring former Birmingham Police Chief Johnnie Johnson Jr. for $11,000 to look at the system's security department.

Johnson was Birmingham police chief from 1992 to 1997.

Aaron Moyana, school safety and dropout prevention officer, told the board in a work session that preceded the meeting of ''a lot of issues that need to be addressed.''

He focused on property crimes that are costing the district ''a lot of money in the process.''

School board member Phyllis Wyne said after the board meeting she hopes the study will ''not just be about protecting buildings but classroom activity. I hope that's what we're going to get out of it.''

She also pressed for a task force composed of community members to address issues such as gangs and school violence.

''We're paying someone $11,000 to tell us what we need to do, plus travel,'' said board member Virginia Volker, who voted against the hiring.

The board also heard news of a $2.5 million U.S. Department of Education grant designed to increase the number of advanced placement classes in most Birmingham high schools.

The money, spent over three years, will go to high schools where more than 40 percent of the study body receives free or reduced lunches. Ramsay High School was the only school not to meet that threshold.

Students who take AP classes might take an exam toward the end of the school year that could go toward college credit.

Elaine Hill, executive director of Birmingham's professional development program, said the money would go toward certifying teachers for AP classes, seminars for parents on college preparation and field trips to colleges for students.