By Gary Lloyd
GARDENDALE — Jefferson County Board of Education Superintendent Craig Pouncey and Gardendale City Board of Education Superintendent Patrick Martin confirmed this week that the first meeting in the negotiation process pertaining to the separation of the Gardendale and Jefferson County school systems was held Tuesday.
Both superintendents expressed confidence that the negotiations would lead to an outcome that is fair and reasonable for all students, families and communities affected by the formation of the Gardendale School System.
Several substantive issues were identified but not discussed in depth at the initial meeting, according to Pouncey and Martin. The school leaders did agree to a tentative timetable for completing negotiations that calls for a final agreement to be developed by December.
The Gardendale Board of Education plans to begin operating as an independent school system on July 1, 2015.
Gardendale will be the first city to break away from Jefferson County Schools and form its own city school system since Trussville did it in 2005. Negotiations to break away began in 2004. In May 2004, the Trussville City Council established and appointed a five-member school board that included Dennis Hill, Butch Howard, Ormond Bentley, Ned Paine and John Floyd. In August 2004, the school board selected Suzanne Freeman as its first superintendent.
In March 2005, Trussville and Jefferson County boards of education agreed to key details for Trussville’s school system formation, including the transfer of four county schools and about 4,000 students to the new system. U.S. District Court Judge Inge Johnson ruled in May 2005 that Trussville could establish its own school system without adversely affecting court-supervised desegregation agreements in nearby systems. Trussville then began its own system in August 2005.
Before that, Leeds broke from the county school system in 2003, Hoover in 1988, Homewood and Midfield in 1971 and Vestavia Hills in 1970. Mountain Brook broke away in 1959, Tarrant in the 1930s, Fairfield in the 1920s, Bessemer in 1889 and Birmingham in 1885.
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