Parents in Hoover schools are eagerly awaiting the release of Superintendent Kathy Murphy’s plan to redraw attendance zones — some looking forward to changes and others wary of what might happen.
The rezoning effort — launched publicly by former Hoover Superintendent Andy Craig in the summer of 2014 — got put on hold when Craig left to take a job with the Alabama Department of Education in January 2015.
Murphy, who came on board in June, got fully briefed on the situation but chose to shelve Craig’s rezoning plan and start fresh in developing a new one. She held five community meetings in October and November to explain the need for rezoning, citing a desire to better balance student numbers among facilities and to ensure fairness in where students are assigned.
Murphy said then that every Hoover school could be impacted by the rezoning plan but she first wanted to hear directly from parents about their concerns. Now, she and other district officials are using community feedback and input from the U.S. Department of Justice to develop the new plan.
“We really appreciate your feedback. Your feedback has given us more direction and more focus,” Murphy said. “We realize that change is difficult, and I wish to minimize the impact of rezoning on our students, our parents and our community.”
She expects to have a new plan ready to present to the public by February. It will be shared at a community meeting so the public has an opportunity to provide additional input, she said.
Each school principal also has selected two to three people from their schools, including parents, to provide input to district administrators in a smaller setting, Murphy said.
The superintendent plans to present a rezoning proposal to the school board for approval no later than early March and then will present the plan to the U.S. District Court, which is supposed to review any changes in student attendance zones before they can take effect, in accordance with a decades-old desegregation court case.
Both the Jefferson County Board of Education and Hoover Board of Education are seeking dismissal of the desegregation case but first must prove that the goals of school desegregation have been accomplished.
Justice Department officials want to make sure minority students are treated fairly in how they are assigned to schools. While school officials say they want classrooms to be integrated, they also don’t want to disproportionately impact minority students in a negative way by forcing them to travel longer distances to school just so that racial numbers balance out, Murphy said.
The public still can email feedback about rezoning to firstname.lastname@example.org.