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South Trussville residents talk about proposed school zones

By Gary Lloyd

TRUSSVILLE — Residents in the Roper Road area of Trussville this week shared their thoughts on Facebook about the proposed elementary school zones sending their children to Paine Primary School.

Residents of that area — Cahaba Manor, Smith Sims Road, Floyd Bradford Road, Pop Stone Circle and others — will, pending approval of the zoning lines, be closer to the new elementary schools in the Magnolia Place and Cahaba Project areas.

The Trussville City Board of Education last month placed proposed elementary school zones on the table for consideration. The proposal on the table includes three zones for elementary school students. Based on this year’s enrollment, there would be 427 students attending the New Deal-era school building in the Cahaba Project, 374 at the school in the Magnolia Place area and 1,025 students at the Paine Elementary Campus.

Kara Kuehlwein Key, who lives on Roper Road, said she’s happy about the possible zoning lines.

A look at the proposed zoning lines shows zoning for Paine Primary School (blue), Cahaba Project (green) and Magnolia Place (yellow).
photo courtesy of Trussville City Schools

“I don’t think traffic will be worse because you are cutting down on a ton of people going that way,” she said. “Paine is the biggest school so there is really no way around people out this way going there.”

Richard Gerhardt, however, said the zoning lines are “dividing neighborhoods up by socioeconomics,” whether intentional or not. He said he believes there are no homes exceeding the $250,000 range zoned for the Magnolia Place school. He said several neighborhoods including homes exceeding that range are zoned for Paine and the Cahaba Project schools.

“To me the solution is logical and could have two possibilities,” Gerhardt said. “First, you could include Tutwiler in the Magnolia zone. It is much easier to turn right on Watterson (Parkway) than left on Chalkville Mountain (Road) during rush hour. Second, you could include neighborhoods south of Queenstown (Road). These students will pass two schools on the way to Paine. An unnecessarily long distance. Further, the numbers in the Magnolia school should be relatively stable, where much of the growth should happen to Paine as current developments continue.”

Gerhardt said if the Magnolia zone doesn’t include more expensive homes, the perception of those moving to Trussville will eventually downgrade the property values in that zone.

Leslie Casey Sansing said that it looks like everyone zoned for Magnolia is within walking distance, which could eliminate the need for buses, she said.

“This is a huge cost cutting measure,” Sansing said.

She said if all elementary buses were at Paine then it comes out cheaper for the school system.

Melanie Price Shores said she was OK with the zoning lines, but driving to the northernmost school from her home will make things tough since she works south of Trussville. She said dropping off a child will be “near impossible.”

In the future, a road could be built that would connect the Pop Stone Circle area off Roper Road to Deerfoot Parkway.

The zoning lines are not hard zone lines, since intra-district student transfer and cross boundary transfer are also on the table. The policy would allow students currently living in the city of Trussville and zoned for an elementary school in their zone of Trussville to request a cross boundary transfer to attend outside their attendance zone.

Trussville residents Feb. 25 voted to approve the seven-millage property tax increase to fund the two new elementary schools. The vote passed by a result of 2,813 voting for the increase to 1,935 voting against it. Seven additional mills in property taxes will cost Trussville residents $70 per year on homes appraised at $100,000, $140 per year on homes appraised at $200,000 and $210 per year on homes appraised at $300,000.

The board of education next meets Monday, June 16 at 6 p.m. at the Central Office. A public work session in which zoning is likely to be discussed is at 4:30 p.m.

Contact Gary Lloyd at news@trussvilletribune.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.

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