Roy L. Williams
Hoover School Board
The board voted to rescind the bus fee plan on Aug. 3.
The Hoover Board of Education, in a unanimous 5-0 vote during its Aug. 3 board meeting, rescinded an April 2014 proposal that would have charged students a fee for riding buses to and from schools.
Hoover City Schools Superintendent Kathy Murphy made the recommendation, telling the board that fee-based transportation program, which would have charged students up to $40.75 a month to ride the buses, placed an unfair burden on families who send their kids to public schools in Hoover.
The bus fee was never implemented as it required approval from a federal judge overseeing a longstanding desegregation case involving Hoover City Schools.
After the unanimous vote to rescind the school bus fee, Murphy and board members received thunderous applause many in the packed boardroom. Several in attendance were parents, some who had yard signs saying “Save the Hoover Buses.”
In an interview after the meeting, Murphy said her decision to seek removal of the bus fee wasn’t driven by a desire to appease the U.S. Department of Justice.
“My recommendation to the board was purely from the get-go from my philosophy. I have a huge disconnect in my mind between 'free public education but I’m going to charge you to get on the bus to get to and from school,'” Dr. Murphy said. “No disrespect to any research or any conversation that preceded me. All I can do is base my decisions on my philosophy and what I feel is right for children and right for parents.”
Murphy said the bus fee would have generated $2 million a year for Hoover City Schools, but she feels there are a number of other places they can look to cut costs and make up savings that would have come from the bus proposal.
“I’m going to take a very close look at our current budget of the entire school system and look for the most savvy ways to be good stewards of our system’s money and try to minimize any impact on our parents and their children,” Murphy said.
For some parents who are really struggling to put their kids in a great school system like Hoover, Murphy said their children get free meals at schools and she couldn’t support “charging them to get on a bus to get that.”
Hoover School Board President Derrick Murphy commended the superintendent for her leadership in rescinding the school bus fee.
“It shows this board does its research, wants this to be an inclusive process, and that we have a great superintendent who looks out for the best interests of our students,” he said. “I’m in support of making sure our kids get the best education they can and are not charged to get from A to B. There are other things we can do to save money that does not burden a child to get an education.”
Catrena Norris Carter was an outspoken critic of former superintendent Andy Craig, who spearheaded the April 2014 bus fee proposal and had sought to eliminate school bus transportation to save money. She praised the board and Superintendent Murphy after the vote.
“I feel excited about the future of our schools with Dr. Murphy as superintendent and Derrick Murphy as board president,” said Carter, who has two children in the eighth and 12th grades in Hoover.
In other action during the Monday, August 3 meeting:
- The Hoover Board of Education approved a resolution to be presented to the Alabama State Legislature urging lawmakers not to take money from the Alabama Education Trust Fund as they seek ways to solve a state funding crisis.
- Superintendent Murphy told the school board that 641 parents have signed up to participate on her new Superintendent’s Advisory Council.
- The superintendent gave an update on a July 22 visit by U.S. Department of Justice officials as part of an investigation into desegregation efforts in Hoover City Schools. Among topics of the visit were the school system’s plans for the old Berry High School property, the bus transportation controversy and how Hoover City Schools is planning to ensure its teachers and other personnel are more reflective of the racial makeup of its student body.
- The board heard a presentation by the Hoover City Schools Foundation on its Hoover Ready program which examines the quality of education students are getting in the school system.