HCS hopes to push back rezoning to 2018-19

HOOVER – Hoover City Schools officials will request that implementation of the school system’s rezoning plan, which is under consideration by a federal judge, be delayed until the 2018-19 school year.

The rezoning was set to take effect when students start the new school year this fall, but Superintendent Kathy Murphy wrote in a letter addressed to the school system that a final decision has not been received from U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala.

“It appears we will not have the time to thoughtfully and reflectively take all of the steps we need to take to do the rezoning right for the 2017-2018 school year,” Murphy wrote. “When the court does address our request, we have decided to request of the court that it be granted instead for the following school year (2018-2019) so that families, employees and the school community will have plenty of time to adjust and prepare.”

Murphy also addressed the HCS Board of Education about the matter at its meeting on Monday, April 10.

The rezoning would affect about 16 percent of the student body.

The rezoning plan was presented to Haikala, she returned questions to the school system in May 2016 and HCS delivered responses in the same month.

A preliminary rezoning plan was revealed to the public during a community meeting in February 2016. After continued discussions with the Department of Justice and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and community input, a finalized plan was approved by the city’s BOE in March 2017.

The rezoning plan is a key piece of the school system’s effort to satisfy a desegregation court order inherited from the Jefferson County School System and achieve unitary status.

Murphy said rezoning is “Step 1” of the process of achieving unitary status.

“This process has not only helped the other parties to understand more about our district, it has helped us reflect more deeply on our own hopes, dreams and goals for our schoolchildren,” Murphy wrote. “The work of rezoning and path toward unitary status can be complicated and challenging; however, our vision is clear—if we continue to focus on giving every individual child the educational opportunities they deserve and if we are willing to work tirelessly to that end, the promise of a unitary system will be absolutely fulfilled.”