School board revisits Normal Park zoning

School board revisits Normal Park zoning

November 2nd, 2011 by Emily Crisman in Community Hixson

Hamilton County Board of Education will hold a special meeting to hear arguments concerning the zoning of Normal Park Museum Magnet School Thursday, Nov. 3 at 5 p.m.

In 2007, school board members voted to expand the zone to include all of Bell and Spears avenues in Hill City for the 2010-2011 school year, according to Chattanooga Times Free Press archives.

HCDE Superintendent Jim Scales said last year the board would not expand the boundaries as promised, citing an increase in the number of families moving into the school zone.

Hill City residents suggested Normal Park reduce the number of out-of-zone students enrolled at the magnet school through its annual lottery process in order to accommodate students in the neighborhood.

Normal Park currently has 371 out-of-zone students and 410 students living in its zone attending the upper and lower schools, according to Karla Riddle, director of innovative programs for HCDE.

Parents can apply online or in person from November through Jan. 31 of each year. The lottery is run through a computerized system, which selects students randomly for available magnet seats based on their first- and second-choice school preferences, she said.

"I think we should honor our commitment," said HCDE school board member Rhonda Thurman. "We have let out-of-zone students in, and now there's not room for these students."

According to Riddle, 533 students submitted an application to attend Normal Park last year. Five of those students were Hill City residents, one of which was enrolled in the school's kindergarten class this fall.

Around 60 Hill City residents were present at the Oct. 27 school board meeting to express their desire to be included in the zone. School board member Chip Baker made the motion to call the special meeting Thursday so the board could hear all sides of the issue.

"I've been dealing with this since 2007," said school board member Rhonda Thurman, who represents the area. "The Hill City group has contacted every member who was at the meeting, and we had so much information sent to us."

APPLY NOW

The HCDE central office is located at 3074 Hickory Valley Road and can be reached at 209-8400. Parents interested in enrolling their children in a magnet school for the 2012-2013 school year can submit an application now through Tuesday, Jan. 31. Parents may apply online here or pick up an application at any area magnet school or the HCDE central office.