Irondale considering own school system

IRONDALE, Ala. (WIAT) — As more and more cities in the Birmingham area begin to separate from county school systems, Ramona Yarbrough has had some concerns.

“What is it about Jefferson County schools that are making people want to leave?”

That is one of the many things Yarbrough is curious about as she plans for her second meeting to discuss whether Irondale should become the next city to break away and create their own school system.

Around seventeen people showed up for a meeting in January to discuss the pros and cons of leaving the Jefferson County school system.

“We are the only city South of I-20/59 that does not have its own system,” Craig Sanderson, City Councilman for District 3 in Irondale, said. “At Irondale Middle School, we get students from twenty different area codes.”

Localizing the school system was one of the positives thrown out in the first meeting. Another was economic development.

“I’ve had several realtors and developers tell me it would be to our advantage to have our own school system. At least a couple of those have told me they’re not coming here because we don’t have our own system,” Sanderson said.

The Jefferson County Board of Education has heard the concerns from Irondale and is aware of the grass roots movement taking place. They are taking the approach of watching from afar for the time being.

“You don’t want to see anybody leave,” Jefferson County Superintendent Dr. Stephen Nowlin said. “At the same time, if you try to push too hard to try to keep them in, they may feel like we are interfering with their own business.”

A wrinkle for this scenario is the Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School. It is currently located on the Shades Valley High School campus in Irondale, but would move to a new location should Irondale separate from the Jefferson County School System.

“Losing that would certainly be of a concern. However, even if it left Irondale, that it will go somewhere in the county, and residents here will have the same opportunity that residents of any city system do now,” Sanderson said of students who live in Irondale but attend JCIB.

For now, though, the schools remain in good standing with Jefferson County.

The next meeting to discuss an Irondale City School System will be Tuesday, February 11th at 6:30 p.m. at Irondale United Methodist Church.

2014 WIAT-TV CBS42

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