Financially distraught Birmingham-Southern College (BSC) is staying open after its board unanimously voted not to close its doors Wednesday night, despite failing to obtain a bailout from taxpayers. 

BSC is a private Methodist-affiliated college. Late last year, the college requested a $37.5 million bailout from local, state and federal governments: $12.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds and $17.5 million from the state education fund. It also requested a $5 million contribution from the Birmingham City Council and $2.5 million from the Jefferson County Commission (JCC).

Government leaders, including JCC president Jimmie Stephens, State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) and Gov. Kay Ivey, indicated over the last three months that the state and county governments were uninterested in providing funds for a private college. 

Earlier this month, the Alabama Legislature appropriated money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and did not include any to help BSC with its financial woes.

The Birmingham City Council delayed a vote on a resolution in March that would've promised support for BSC if the college garnered support from the state government. Some council members expressed concern over the resolution lacking a dollar amount that the city would be willing to offer. The council will now vote on the resolution on April 19. 

Nevertheless, Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) suggested that the legislature was now considering loaning money to BSC instead of giving them taxpayer funds with no expectation of a return.

"It's not just been a request for straight money," Ledbetter told the press on Thursday. "I think there's been a question about a loan … I think that's being looked at … Just giving them money may not be as feasible as a loan, and I think that may be on the table. I certainly would love to see them stay open, but we've got to do it the right way."

The BSC Board of Trustees was initially supposed to meet last week but delayed discussing the school's fate until Wednesday. 

Both BSC president Daniel Coleman and chair of the BSC Board of Trustees Rev. Keith D. Thompson indicated that the school was still seeking public funds.

"The Board of Trustees has made the informed and thoughtful decision to keep Birmingham-Southern open," said Thompson. "We have been working closely with our allies in state and local government to secure bridge funding … We will continue to work with legislators through the end of the legislative session to ensure all are aware of the significant direct economic impact BSC provides each and every year, as well as the immense contributions made by our alumni to the civic, business, and political leadership of our state."

"We will also be gearing up for the public phase of the endowment campaign, which will ensure our long-term financial resilience," Coleman said.

Also, according to the press release, State Sens. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) and Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills) support providing government assistance to the college. State Rep. Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham) also supports the measure.

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