The first part of this page is an exact duplicate of a page from the Hoover School Community Information Network (HSCIN), a nonprofit volunteer organization whose goal was to keep timely information online in order to allow the Hoover community to engage in the decisions being made about our public schools. The HSCIN was dissolved in 2010.
Zoning Considerations – 2008
With rezoning once again in the forefront to address the continued growth in Hoover City Schools, please take a moment to catch up on the history of the last rezoning, including the Board of Education’s use of a Community Planning Process.
Documents from the 2004 Rezoning Process:
Apartment Zoning Plan (link no longer available)
In addition, the HSCIN has posted a number of informative articles outlining the history of the most recent rezoning process on THE Hoover Forum. Click here to go to these articles. It is imperative to understand how we got where we are before we can move forward.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” – George Santayana, Philosopher, Reason in Common Sense
Possible Zoning Plans Presented by Superintendent Craig (in 2008)
We outline these plans here only to refresh the memories of those who attended the series of community meetings Mr. Craig held during February (2008). It is extremely important to note that these plans are not “set in stone”, rather they were presented to the community to gather input on what the different zoning scenarios meant to our Hoover school community.
Mr. Craig indicated that much study is still necessary to determine which path will result in the best use of finances and best fits our school community.
Scenario #2 – presented at Simmons Middle School February 4 was deemed not feasible. It included removing the 6th grade from the Bumpus Middle School campus and housing them in Elementary School #11, which will be built south of Regions Park.
Mr. Craig presented a new series of zoning considerations at the Bumpus Middle School meeting on February 12. It included implementing zoning changes in two phases. Timelines for implementation were not given.
Other options were given that included having Trace Crossings Elementary attend Simmons Middle School for a period of time before opening the Freshman Campus as the fourth middle school, making Trace Crossings a K-6 school, and moving Trace Crossings 7th and 8th graders to the Freshman Campus. No detailed numbers were given for those options.
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So What Happened as a Result of These Discussions?
The economy began a serious slowdown after these discussions, though I can’t say exactly when. The first mention of budget shortfalls for education on a state level were reported in December 2007, when Governor Riley made comments that a transfer of money from the Rainy Day Fund would be likely before the end of FY08 (ending on September 30, 2008).
Those discussions noted above were held in February 2008. By March 5, 2008, Governor Riley declared a 6.5% proration for state education funding, but that amount was offset by a transfer from the Rainy Day Fund (which was eventually emptied in FY09). So Hoover schools avoided the cut.
After it was clear that the Superintendent was not interested in pursuing a third high school, residents began to question where money was being spent.
There was much discussion at Hoover board meetings about how much money was being spent and whether the Superintendent was putting enough money away for the future. Residents were assured that finances were in great shape and to stop worrying.
A city election was coming in August 2008.
The City Council was re-elected in August 2008. John Greene was elected to the Council seat vacated by Mike Natter, who chose not to run for re-election.
The 2008-2009 school year passed with no discussion of finances or building. Towards the end of the 2009 school year, there were talks of doubling bus routes and staggering school start times to use buses more efficiently.
The Hoover City Council delayed passing its FY2009 budget until August 2009, ten months into the fiscal year. AFTER the end of the 2008-2009 school year. AFTER teachers were already under contract for the 2009-2010 school year. AFTER the superintendent recommended and the board passed the FY09 budget (in September 2008) expecting a $7 million contribution from the City Council.
When then-Mayor Tony Petelos originally proposed the FY09 budget (in June 2009, more than halfway into that budget year), he had zeroed-out the $7 million-plus contribution to the school district. After members of the community revolted (in the middle of the summer, with 48 hours notice of a budget hearing), the Council voted to give our school children $2 million for that year.
This $5.5 million loss to the school district, 10 months into the fiscal year, was unexpected and came on top of a loss in state funding due to proration of 11% (meaning the state cut funding by 11%, first announcing 9% in December and then upping it to 11% in July 2009), which ultimately cost the school district more than $11 million in revenue that year.
That loss put the school district on a whole new course. It likely became clear that there would be no new building for a while.
Bus routes were doubled and school start times were staggered at the start of the 2009-2010 school year.
In November 2009, a new district-wide task force was put together to determine how to weather the storm.
The documents shared during those discussions are posted here. Included in these documents are enrollment and transiency numbers from that time.
The decision was made to seek approval of extension of the 24-mill property tax devoted to schools and the community overwhelmingly voted to approve that extension.
The decision was also made to refinance the long-term debt that the school district held. That freed up about $7 million a year in cash flow for the next three years because those first three years were interest-only payments.
Positions were eliminated at the end of the 2009-2010 school year, but most were added back in the first few months of the 2010-2011 school year.
Proration was declared again in FY10 (9.5%) and FY11 (3%). That loss of state funding is difficult for districts to manage, because salaries cannot be prorated, even though state funding for salaries is reduced.
In 2011, the decision was made to realign school grade configurations, creating Brock’s Gap for the 5th and 6th grades attending Trace Crossings, Deer Valley, and South Shades Crest.
As part of that realignment, the decision was made to build 24-36 classrooms onto Hoover High to allow for continued growth.
Here is the document school officials shared with the community about the 2011 realignment. It should be noted that a small section of single-family homes was rezoned to South Shades Crest to relieve concerns about capacity at Deer Valley.
The realignment started with the 2011-2012 school year. Here are the documents filed with and approved by the U.S. District Court for that realignment.
Gary Ivey, who was serving as Council President, became Mayor when Tony Petelos left for Jefferson County’s City Manager position in October 2011.
The school system was said to be weathering the storm well prior to City Council elections in August 2012. All but one of the currently-seated City Councilors were re-elected. John Lyda defeated Mari Morrison in her re-election bid. She was the only woman serving on the Council.
In July 2013, the board, without warning or public discussion of any concerns about school finances, voted to eliminate buses for students in general education at the start of the 2014-2015 school year in an effort to save money. At that point, the Save the Hoover Buses effort began, which is why this web site was created.
While the buses were saved, the board did approve a plan to charge for buses beginning with the 2015-2016 school year. That plan has yet to be submitted or approved by the U.S. District Court.
That event opened up a series of questions about school finances and whether the school district really is having financial difficulty or not. The superintendent sends mixed messages, saying on one hand that the situation was so dire that half of the student population would lose their ride to school in an effort to save $2.5 million, but then saying on the other hand that the district had a healthy $95-plus million cash reserve.
In April 2014, the superintendent discussed possible rezoning with parent leaders in the Hoover Parent Teacher Council. Then-Board president Paulette Pearson confirmed those talks were underway to al.com’s Jon Anderson.
And here we are.