By William C. Singleton III
The Hoover school system released its latest realignment plan which reduces the impact of rezoning on the Bluff Park and Lake Crest communities but heavily affects the Lake Cyrus neighborhood and residents living in apartments.
Under the proposed plan:
Students from Lake Cyrus will go from Deer Valley Elementary to Trace Crossings Elementary.
Students in the Ridge Crossings apartments will go from Deer Valley Elementary to Trace Crossings Elementary.
Students in the Landmark at Magnolia Glen apartments will go from Trace Crossings Elementary to Deer Valley Elementary.
Students in Riverchase Landing apartments will go from Trace Crossings Elementary to South Shades Crest Elementary.
Students in the Crowne at Galleria Woods apartments will go from South Shades Crest Elementary to Trace Crossings Elementary.
Students from the proposed Grove subdivision will go from Gwin Elementary to Trace Crossings Elementary.
Students in Wood Gardens and Wildwood apartments will go from Rocky Ridge Elementary to Riverchase Elementary.
Students in apartments at Riverchase Gardens, Royal Oaks, The Gables Condominiums, Summerchase of Riverchase, Colonial Grand at Riverchase Trails and Sterling Oaks of Riverchase between U.S. 31 and Interstate 65 will go from Riverchase Elementary to Greystone Elementary.
The proposed 2015-2016 realignment plan with maps can be viewed at ww.hoovercityschools.net.
The latest plan is an attempt to address concerns residents raised about the previous proposed alignment. At a school board meeting in August, Hoover School Superintendent Andy Craig unveiled a plan that impacted more neighborhoods.
After complaints by residents, Craig held individual meetings with neighborhood groups to listen to feedback. Based on the feedback, Craig revised the realignment plan, which he shared at a school board meeting attended by more than 200 people at the Hoover High School arts theater.
Craig and Tim Aho, a Hoover resident and zoning consultant, explained the need for the plan at the September board meeting.
“Hoover is a much different place than the last time we went through a major rezoning effort about a decade ago,” Aho said. “We’ve seen a little more than 20 percent growth (or) 2,360 more students in Hoover schools today than we were when we started.”
He also noted there’s more diversity in the system.
The rezoning proposal seeks to alleviate overcrowding at Deer Valley Elementary and shift more students to Trace Crossings, which has the capacity to accommodate growth, Craig has said.
Ross Bridge, which feeds into Deer Valley Elementary, is expected to have the most significant residential construction over the next five years.
The latest plan also seeks to balance Hoover’s minority student population throughout the system’s elementary schools.
“This is a dramatically different plan than from where we started,” Aho said. “It’s much better. It affects fewer students. It’s been refined…in response to community feedback.”
However, not everyone agreed, including Lake Cyrus residents who will feel the majority of the impact of the realignment. Lake Cyrus resident Barry Smith said he and his wife purchased their home in the community because of Deer Valley Elementary. He noted that the developers of Ross Bridge agreed to set aside land for a fire station and a school and asked why a school is not being built for Ross Bridge if growth is causing a need for rezoning.
“Why uproot Lake Cyrus when Deer Valley was created for Lake Cyrus?” he asked.
Smith also said he feels Lake Cyrus is being singled out because it doesn’t have a representative on the school board.
Monica Dobbins, who lives in the Royal Oaks apartment complex, cited a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which found unconstitutional efforts to rezone students based on demographic goals and not based on “demonstrable educational benefits for racial diversity.”
She challenged the board to consider whether it’s right to relocate students from apartment complexes and whether they’re being served by this rezoning proposal.
Hoover resident Catrena Norris Carter blasted school officials for being “racist and classist” with their latest proposal.
The school board took no action on the plan, and Craig said he is still gathering community feedback on the proposed rezoning plan.
The school system plans to submit the plan to the U.S. Justice Department for approval.