HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Huntsville City School officials are expected to lay it all out on the table in a special public meeting this Thursday.
During the past year, the board announced plans for major changes in the systems, including school closings, mergers, and construction. Now district leaders are looking to take the next step in their effort to gain unitary status : Rezoning.
“Right now under the desegregation order, basically everything we want to do in the population in our school system has to go through Department of Justice approval, like transfers, building construction,” said board president David Blair.
There is a certain freedom that will be afforded to Huntsville City Schools if or when the district is released from a federal desegregation order.
It’s been a long road, but along the way the district has strived to prove it no longer needs the federal regulation to keep schools diverse and thriving.
Blair points to rising graduation rates, new construction of old schools, new teacher hires, and a technology initiative that has given every single student a laptop or iPad.
Blair says as of now, he doesn’t know the complete rezoning plan that will be presented at the meeting on Thursday.
“It’s been a lawyer to lawyer conversation. That’s what’s been going on [over the past year]. Our lawyers have been talking with NAACP and DOJ lawyers to come up with some sort of plan for the zone lines.”
On Thursday the board will present both the district’s and the DOJ’s rezoning plans to the public.
Throughout the process the school district has received fierce criticism for a lack of transparency. Many parents have expressed feeling misled when news broke Butler High School would be among the closing schools.
Blair says the board’s intention wasn’t to deceive parents.
“Part of the ground rules was confidentiality on both parties. So we felt like we were handcuffed, that we couldn’t discuss anything we might have known, but we had snippets here and there.”
Blair promises come Thursday it will all be out on the table, and the board will explicitly detail future plans.
The special meeting will begin at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Annie C. Mertz Center, before the regular school board meeting begins.
District leaders have sheduled forums on the following dates to hear comments and concerns from the public on the rezoning plan
- Thursday, January 30th – 5 p.m. at Lee High School
- Friday, January 31st – 5 p.m. at Grissom High School
- Saturday, February 1st – 9 a.m. at Huntsville High School
- Monday, February 3rd – 5 p.m. at Johnson High School
- Tuesday, February 4th – 5 p.m. at Butler High School
- Wednesday, February 5th – 5 p.m. at Columbia High School
UPDATE: The dates and times have been updated in accordance with Huntsville City Schools’ latest schedule.