The State of Hoover Buses

You may recall that Superintendent Andy Craig recommended eliminating buses for students in general education on July 15, 2013.

After Craig flew to Washington in November 2013 for a meeting with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Hoover Board of Education  (HBOE) voted at the December 9, 2013, regular meeting to rescind their vote at the July meeting, effectively reinstating the buses.

I still wonder why Craig couldn’t simply recommend reinstating the buses and why the Board chose to use a parliamentary procedure to do the right thing.

Late in the day on December 2, 2014, James Knickrhem, Coordinator of Pupil Transportation, sent an email to parents of Hoover students announcing a job fair on December 3 and 4. Here is the content of that email:

Dear Parents, If you, or someone you know, would like a fantastic part time job with excellent benefits as part of an incredible team supporting our children, our school system is seeking school bus drivers as well as substitute drivers. Find out more about becoming a certified school bus driver,… [the link no longer works, BTW]

The Transportation Department provides all necessary hands-on training. Preliminary interviews will be held on Wednesday, December 3, 2014 and Thursday, December 4, 2014 from 8:00a-4:00p at the Transportation Office of Hoover City Schools’ Operations Center, near Hoover High School.

For more information please contact Transportation Coordinator James Knickrehm at 205-439-1126, the Transportation Department at 205-439-1120 or email

At the December 8 board meeting, Human Resources Director Mary Veal reported that seven people are going to begin training as a result of the job fair.

Oh, the irony.

Hoover couldn’t get rid of our bus drivers fast enough last year.

The board even authorized Chief School Financial Officer Cathy Antee to negotiate with a transportation provider to contract bus drivers.

Last February, we posted the net loss of bus drivers since Craig made his recommendation to eliminate buses. 22 had resigned, and 10 had been hired. A net loss of 12.

As of the December 8 board meeting, based on personnel reports, since the July 2013 announcement to eliminate buses, 43 drivers had resigned, and 26 had been hired, for a net loss of 17 drivers.

According to state personnel reports, as of October 2014, Hoover City Schools employed 130 bus drivers, which includes drivers who drive buses dedicated to students with special needs.

In those same reports for October 2012 and October 2013, Hoover City Schools employed 151 bus drivers.

Are there fewer routes? There are six fewer regular education and three fewer special education bus routes than there were during the 2013-2014 school year.

As a result, there are a total of 171 routes being driven by 130 drivers.

So the next time you see a bus driver, please say thank you. They have an incredibly important job, transporting our children to and from school every day. The conditions in which they have operated since July 2013 have been less than ideal, from a human resources standpoint.

They could have all left, and for a while it looked like they might.

Our Hoover bus drivers deserve our gratitude.

NOTE: The two sources of information about the number of bus drivers are (1) reports all districts file with the Alabama State Department of Education, and (2) the personnel reports approved at each Hoover BOE meeting.



So What’s Been Happening in Hoover City Schools Lately?

A lot.

Since September’s board meeting where Superintendent Andy Craig’s rezoning plan was presented to the public……

Hoover’s student enrollment for 2014-2015 is 13,904, showing growth of only 22 students since the 2013-2014 school year. [Looks like Craig got his wish to flatten enrollment.]

Superintendent Andy Craig accepted a job at the Alabama State Department of Education in early November without bothering to tell the Board of Education.

News broke that same day that former Trace Crossings Principal Robin Litaker filed a federal lawsuit alleging sex discrimination against the Board of Education and that Craig and current Trace Crossings principal/former assistant superintendent Carol Barber libeled her in their communications about her move out of Trace Crossings in November 2012.

Attorney Donald Sweeney submitted the always-required-but-never-before-filed annual integration status report for 2014 on November 10. Here’s the report.

On November 12, U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala ordered the Hoover Board of Education to file reports for 2009 through 2013 by January 30, 2015.

The Hoover City Council voted 6-1 to approve the city budget for FY15 with the same $2 million contribution to the school system, in spite of the Ross Bridge School Association having lobbied and petitioned for more funding from the City Council.

Craig told the Hoover Chamber of Commerce at their annual luncheon on November 20 that the school system was not in any financial difficulty, an irony not lost on columnist John Archibald.

The Board of Education accepted Craig’s resignation at the December 8 board meeting.

The Board stated it intends to appoint an interim superintendent at the December 19 called meeting.

The Board hopes to appoint a full-time superintendent before the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

At the same meeting, Sweeney stated that Judge Haikala has initiated discussions into whether Hoover City Schools are at a point where they can begin the process of ending oversight by the federal court related to the 1971 order to desegregate Jefferson County schools.

A status conference where a joint statement of the attorneys from Hoover and Jefferson County schools along with the attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund will be reviewed by Haikala will be held on February 20, 2015.

Still no word from the State Superintendent about the results of his investigation into why black students and poor students test scores dropped so low in the spring of 2012.

The rezoning proposal is still on the table.

Bus fees are still on the table.

Rezoning, bus fees, finding a new superintendent…..

Looks like 2015 is going to be a busy year for school officials.

Looks like our Hoover school community needs to stay on top of the situation.