Delaying rezoning will give students, parents more time

Hoover City Schools officials are understandably anxious to implement a plan for rezoning.

Some of the 16 schools in the system are bursting at the seams and will benefit from the student population being spread more evenly across the system’s 10 elementary schools, one intermediate school, three middle schools and two high schools.

Parents and students will no doubt benefit from rezoning also. There will be some initial inconveniences—about 16 percent of the student body, or about 2,200 students, will be affected by rezoning—but rezoning will allow the school system to continue offering students a first-rate education.

Rezoning is also the first step toward HCS earning unitary status. The system inherited a desegregation court order from the Jefferson County School System, and unitary status would be the final, important result of HCS ensuring it is offering the same education to all of students regardless of race.

For the moment, the rezoning plan is in the hands of a federal judge. As officials await a final decision, Superintendent Kathy Murphy announced that HCS would ask the plan be implemented for the 2018-19 school year instead of the coming school year as originally planned.

“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 in a letter to school system stakeholders. “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 so that families, employees and the school community will have plenty of time to adjust and prepare.”

Postponing implementation of the plan is the right move. Asking students and parents to change schools with such short notice would cause hardships.

If U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala approves the plan soon, as hoped for, those affected will have plenty of time to make the transition a smooth one for 2018-19.

Achieving unitary status will take years. Officials are ready to take the first step but are making sure everyone else is ready, too.

Stephen Dawkins is a staff writer for the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 524 or by email at stephen.dawkins@shelbycountyreporter.com.