Hoover City Schools Superintendent Andy Craig has set before the Board of Education a proposal to rezone several elementary schools, and has asked for public input before finalizing the proposal. Mr. Craig's stated reasons for the rezoning are to relieve and prevent overcrowding, promote ethnic diversity, and wisely use limited district funds and facilities.
Some of the proposal's recommendations have already met with opposition, in particular a recommendation to send some students currently zoned for Bluff Park Elementary to Gwin Elementary. Other neighborhoods are mobilizing against the proposal as well. As often happens during periods of rezoning, neighbor is being set against neighbor, and everyone is angry.
One recommendation that hasn't gotten a lot of attention would send students who live in multi-family dwellings in Riverchase East between Highway 31 and Interstate 65 to Greystone Elementary, which stands as an outpost at the edge of the district on Highway 280. Greystone Elementary serves a school zone with lots of room for housing and commercial development, expansion, and growth. in contrast, although Riverchase Elementary is nearing capacity, there isn't much room in its zone for new housing or indeed for new families in the multi-family units, as most of these units have only one or two bedrooms and therefore can't easily accommodate families with more than one child.
There are many public misconceptions and exaggerations about those who live in apartment homes. They may be addressed in other forums. What I do want to point out here is that the proposed zoning changes will have a negative effect on Hoover's most vulnerable citizens, hard working people who deeply value their community and who often make difficult sacrifices in order to live in this city.
Hoover derives a great deal of its tax revenue from retail sales and other related businesses such as restaurants, and therefore depends on an educated, committed local work force. These are not high-paying jobs, but until Hoover diversifies its revenues, the city will depend upon people in these jobs to support its operation. In other words, we need them, and they need us. All of Hoover's residents have a role to play in making the city successful, and therefore all of us should enjoy affordable housing, excellent schools, and structural supports to make life easy and rewarding.
Rezoning students in Riverchase East from Riverchase Elementary to Greystone Elementary will put an undue and unneighborly strain on these working families. As readers may recall, the Board is awaiting US Justice Department approval for a plan to charge school bus riders fees of as much as $650 annually. Such fees are well outside of many working families' budgets, apartment dwellers or not. Consider, too, a much longer day for our littlest students, already worn out from a day of learning. The alternative would be a long commute down Valleydale Road, past Jefferson State College and Spain Park High School, and then back out Highway 280 during the morning rush hour.
We urge the Board of Education and Superintendent Craig not to make these changes to our neighborhood's school zone. Please consider the burden it would place upon families in your calculus. We have an opportunity during this process to make Hoover a safe, affordable, and equitable place for all families to enjoy life.
Riverchase East Parent Working Group