Hoover Schools community discusses rezoning

Published 1:13 pm Friday, November 6, 2015

Hoover Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathy Murphy listens to Leigh Shaffer’s concerns and ideas about rezoning during a Nov. 5 community meeting. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

Hoover Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathy Murphy listens to Leigh Shaffer’s concerns and ideas about rezoning during a Nov. 5 community meeting. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

HOOVER—Hoover City Schools parents, faculty, staff and concerned citizens gathered at the Metropolitan Church of God on Nov. 5 to learn and offer ideas about the school system’s impending rezoning during a community meeting.

The Nov. 5 community meeting focused on Spain Park High School and its feeder schools, including Greystone Elementary, Riverchase Elementary, Rocky Ridge Elementary, Shades Mountain Elementary and Berry Middle schools.

Hoover Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathy Murphy opened the meeting explaining the reasons behind rezoning, something that has been a topic of discussion in the school system for the past few years.

Due to population growth and shifts in the city, the distribution of students across the system’s 17 schools has become uneven, with some schools “maxed out” and others “underutilized,” Murphy explained.

All Spain Park feeder schools are currently operating at between 80.4 and 99.1 percent of their optimal capacity, while Hoover High School feeder schools range from between 60.4 and 108.3 percent of their optimal capacities.

“You have a little bit of a different conversation than what’s going on in the west side of our city,” Murphy said, noting several schools on the west side of Hoover are “quite overcrowded.”

Murphy said the school system will examine current population distribution as well as projected future growth in order to create zones that evenly distribute students across schools.

“I want you to know, we’re not just sitting back and not looking at projections for future enrollment,” Murphy said. “Growth is continuing… we’re going to study all of it and we’re going to look at all of it.”

The Hoover City School System is also working to achieve unitary status from the United States Department of Justice. Although Hoover did not operate segregated schools, when the school system broke away from the Jefferson County School System in 1987, it remained under the desegregation court order that was placed on Jefferson County Schools.

“The Department of Justice is working with us because or district desires to achieve unitary status,” Murphy said. “In order to achieve unitary status, there are some things we have to do.”

In order to achieve unitary status, Hoover Schools must satisfy the Department of Justice’s “Green factors,” which are equality across transportation, facilities, clubs and organizations, student assignments, staff assignments and faculty assignments.

The school system will meet with United States District Judge Madeline Haikala in December, and Murphy said she hopes to present at least a preliminary plan for rezoning that satisfies the Green standards.

“I just want us to do everything we could reasonably have done to do our homework,” Murphy said.

Murphy said she hopes to have a rezoning plan ready for the 2016-2017 school year, but no plan has been created yet.

“We have a fairly ambitious plan of pulling this together,” Murphy said. “I want to hear from you, we’ve had five community meetings for the purpose of hearing from you.”

Families living on the perimeters of current zones expressed concern about increased travel time if rezoned to a new school.

“The most vulnerable to rezoning are those on the perimeter,” Riverchase Elementary School parent Crystal Wilkerson said. “To attempt to get from my home to Greystone during peak carpool would be a tremendous nightmare.”

Parents also requested the school system consider continuity and keeping students within the same feeder system.

“Myself, I’m very invested in these schools for my children,” Nicki Mayhew said, noting her eight grade daughter has looked forward to attending Spain Park and is concerned rezoning will move her. “She wants to be in Spain Park robotics.”

Murphy assured parents their voices will be heard throughout the rezoning process.

“I know there is a lot of concern and discontentment and fear,” Murphy said. “We’re going to do everything we can to nominally disrupt your world and your life.”

For more information about Hoover City Schools rezoning, visit Hoovercityschools.net/?DivisionID=20974.