North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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June 18, 2013

County school board approves moving Fultondale sixth-grade classes to high school

BIRMINGHAM — A long-rumored plan to move sixth grade students and alleviate overcrowding at Fultondale Elementary School is finally being put into place.

Sixth-graders will be moving up to Fultondale High School beginning with the coming school year, thanks to action approved by the Jefferson County Board of Education in their regular meeting Tuesday.

The move will switch four classrooms from the elementary school, which has suffered from severe overcrowding since it opened in January 2007. It's an issue that has been discussed for a very long time, according to elementary school principal Reta Hayes.

"I've been here nine years, and it's been talked about ever since then," Hayes said. "My predecessor said it was discussed for 15 years before that."

Hayes said that her school was built for 750 students, but finished the 2012-13 school year with 891. That was up from 881 to start the year, but down from a high of 903 near the Christmas break. Eight portable classrooms handle the overflow.

High school principal Dr. Stephanie Robinson said that the sixth graders would be set apart from the rest of the school population, with the classrooms adjacent to her own office. The new students would have their own class rotation and separate physical education classes from seventh and eighth grades; if plans work out, they will also have a separate lunch period, Robinson said.

“This will give them a little wiggle room at the elementary school, which they have absolutely none right now,” said Dr. Yancy Morris, the deputy superintendent of administrative services.

Morris said that Robinson and Hayes would be contacting the parents of sixth graders shortly with details of the change.

The move is admittedly a stopgap measure, as enrollment in the Fultondale feeder system continues to grow at a rate far outpacing the rest of the county system — by 16 percent in the last year, Morris told the board. Robinson said that her seventh and eighth grades already have more than 100 students each.

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