Hemphill Elementary School

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Hemphill Elementary School
Hemphill School Crest.png
BCS small logo.png Birmingham City Schools
Years 1871present
Location 714 12th Street Southwest, (map)
Arlington-West End
Grades K-5
Principal Warren Lewis
Enrollment 293 (2022)
Colors blue & gold
Mascot Hawks
Website bhamcityschools.org

R. C. Hemphill Elementary School is an elementary school in the Birmingham Public School System that feeds into Arrington Middle School. Hemphill Elementary is located at 714 12th Street Southwest, near Woodward Park in the Arlington-West End neighborhood of the West End community. It is named in honor of former West End mayor Robert C. Hemphill.

The first school in the area was a frame schoolhouse constructed in 1871 and moved to Cotton Avenue where it was expanded to three rooms. In 1902 the wooden West End School was replaced by a brick schoolhouse and J. L. Lyles appointed as principal. West End mayor Robert Hemphill secured funds to complete the construction and it was named in his honor. The school became part of Birmingham's public school system when West End was annexed in the Greater Birmingham legislation that took effect in 1910.

The early 1920s saw remarkable growth in the number of students attending Hemphill Elementary. In 1920 there were 665 pupils. A 1922 school census reported 910 students at the school. By 1923 Hemphill was overcrowded with 1,193 students, nearly twice the building's reasonable capacity. Administrators had resorted to housing classes in store-rooms, temporary buildings and in a rented commercial building nearby. Authors of a "Birmingham School Survey" further criticized the school building for being "incorrectly planned and improperly oriented", and also found that the playground area of 18 square feet per student was inadequate. An addition to the school was completed in 1927, giving it a total capacity of 805 pupils. Meanwhile, Jackson Elementary School was constructed in 1925 and expanded into the former Birmingham Fire Station No. 15 in 1928, relieving much of the congestion at Hemphill.

In a follow-up "Report of Progress in Birmingham Public Schools" in 1931 Hemphill was credited with having an enrollment of 805 students, precisely matching its planned capacity.

In 2013 Superintendent Craig Witherspoon recommended closing Jackson Elementary and transferring its students to Hemphill Elementary School. State superintendent Ed Richardson approved the plan without a vote of the Birmingham Board of Education, which had been temporarily taken over by the state.

Under the guidelines of the Alabama Accountability Act of 2015 Hemphill Elementary was designated as a "failing" school by the Alabama Department of Education in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

In 2022 the school was tapped to participate in Alabama's "Turnaround Schools Initiative" to provide supplemental public funding and other state resources to assist with lasting improvements to programs.