Shelby County BOE approves Chelsea zoning changes

By KATIE MCDOWELL/Lifestyles Editor

The Shelby County Board of Education approved zoning changes to the Chelsea area to accommodate the opening of a new elementary school in the fall of 2013.

The zoning change splits the Chelsea area into three zones, and students will attend either Chelsea Park Elementary, Mt Laurel Elementary or Forest Oaks Elementary, which will open in the fall of 2013. All three schools will serve kindergarten-fifth grade students.

“We have three brand-new, outstanding schools,” Superintendent Randy Fuller said. “They’re all new and all great performing schools.”

Fuller said the school system formed a committee consisting of principals, central office officials and the transportation department to address the zoning changes in the spring of 2012. The school system also held a public forum in the Chelsea area last week to hear feedback from parents.

Michelle Hicks, who also attended the forum, asked the board to delay the vote on the zoning changes until the following meeting to give parents more time to review the changes.

Hicks lives in the Forest Park neighborhood and has two children who attend Mt Laurel Elementary, which she said is close to her home. Next year, her children will attend Chelsea Park Elementary.

“We (will be) going to a school that’s nine miles away,” she said.

Tina Manderson also lives in Forest Park and has a child who attends Mt Laurel Elementary. She said she will pass two elementary schools next year when driving her child to school. She also said she was worried the change will affect property values of her home because of the longer drive to school.

Fuller said many factors were used in determining the zoning changes, including each building’s capacity and the area’s anticipated growth.

“We see Chelsea as one of the leaders in growth,” he said.

Fuller said it was important the board voted on the changes during the Feb. 21 meeting because the school system needed to move forward with planning, especially personnel issues.

Teachers at Mt Laurel Elementary and Chelsea Park Elementary have been asked to rank their school preference. Those rankings will be taken into account, along with the individual schools’ instructional needs, when they make teaching assignments at the three schools for 2013.

“It’s pretty expedient that we move forward, especially because of the personnel issues,” he said.

In other business, the board voted to approve to following hires:

• Maria Tidmore as the principal of Wilsonville Elementary. Tidmore has more than 26 years of experience in public education in Shelby County as a teacher and, for the last five years, as an administrative assistant at Wilsonville Elementary.

• April Brand as the secondary program area specialist. Brand is currently the assistant principal at Oak Mountain High and has more than 16 years of experience in public education.

• David Hogue as the district supervisor of athletics, health, physical education and driver’s education. Hogue has 14 years of public education experience as a teacher, coach, athletic director and assistant principal.