North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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December 17, 2013

Mt. Olive Fire and Rescue District board isn't taking sides on annexation, for now

(Continued)

MT. OLIVE —

After presenting the statement, Sloan opened the floor for those in attendance to ask questions or make comments — a give-and-take that lasted more than half an hour. Most of those who spoke appeared to oppose annexation.

The action by the board stems from Gardendale’s move to break away from the Jefferson County Schools and form its own system. By state law, any city which follows this path must establish a school district that is defined by the city limits.

That presents a problem for many families in unincorporated Mt. Olive, whose children attend Mt. Olive Elementary and are zoned to attend Bragg Middle and Gardendale High schools. To guarantee that those children would stay in that feeder system, those areas would have to be annexed into Gardendale.

A group called MO Matters has formed to propose annexation of just the area zoned for Bragg Middle and Gardendale High. Other areas, where students are sent to the Mortimer Jordan, Fultondale or Corner feeder systems, are not included in the area proposed to be annexed.

No formal group has been formed to oppose the annexation effort, but a Facebook group for those opposed has seen lively discussion, as has MO Matters’ own Facebook group. Signs for and against annexation already appear in numerous yards in the community.

MO Matters proposes that annexation be put to a vote, which is the most common way for annexing a large area into a neighboring city.

There is also the possibility that the board of the new Gardendale system could allow students from outside the district lines to attend by paying tuition, or otherwise be “grandfathered” into the new district. But the new system does not even exist yet as a corporate entity, and applications for the new board will not be closed until mid-January with members chosen in March, Phillips said Monday night.

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