School rezoning now shifts to welcoming outreach by receiving schools

As many of you know, the Madison City Board of Education approved new zone lines on Thursday April 19 that includes several neighborhoods. Those affected will receive some important information in the mail soon.

This will include information about school visits, course registration, waivers (for current 7th-11th graders), Open House dates and other info.

Any current Madison City student 7th through 11th grade can seek a waiver to stay in their school and feeder pattern until graduation.

Waivers will not apply to rezoned elementary students, nor to secondary students in rezoned neighborhoods who will be new to Madison City schools next school year. Transportation will not be provided to students granted a waiver.

The Board approved Superintendent Robby Parker’s rezoning recommendation after its attorney gave a positive report on Madison’s legal standing in the federal desegration case.

Madison City Schools is not a direct party to the decades-old deseg case but is within the court’s purview because it was under Madison County Schools when the city formed its own school district in 1998. Madison County was under the deseg order then and remains as such.

Since MCS has never been officially declared a unitary system, the judge for the case requested MCS not proceed with rezoning until she had reviewed documents and consulted with the district and other parties on rezoning’s potential effect.

The judge did so and encountered no objections by the NAACP or Justice Department. Chris Pape, legal counsel for the MCS Board, told the Board the judge said she would not object to or stop the rezoning if it moved forward. He said she apologized for the delay, realizing the bind it put the BOE in with families affected by the late rezoning.

Board members echoed their frustration with the delay and vowed that future rezonings would be done more in advance of a school year. The proposed rezoning has been pending since February.

The intent of the zoning changes is to balance socio-economic mixes among schools as evenly as possible. “Schools should be similar socio-economically and reflect the diversity of the district,” Mr. Parker has said. Efforts were made to achieve that balance while impacting as few students as possible.

Keeping schools as socio-economically equal as possible has always been a hallmark of Madison City Schools. The result is that no matter where one lives in Madison City, they will be served by a quality school.

Madison City Schools is one of only two school systems out of 137 statewide that earned an A at every school in the recent state-issued report cards. School leaders say that’s a result of not being a system of “haves” and “have nots” schools.