Mount Olive residents split over Gardendale annexation

Mount Olive residents split over Gardendale annexation

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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

A battle continues to brew over parts of Mount Olive possibly being annexed into Gardendale.

Parents and schools are worried where some Mount Olive kids will go once Gardendale breaks away from Jefferson County and forms its own system. Craig Goolsby is just one of those parents whose children might soon be forced to change schools.

"537 kids out of the Mount Olive area will be displaced once the Gardendale Board of Education begins their school system," said Goolsby.

That's why he and others have formed what they call "Mo-matters," or "Mount Olive Matters." They are calling on Gardendale to annex the part of Mount Olive that currently feeds into the city's schools, but not everyone is on board with the idea.

Just last week, a group opposed annexation held a similar meeting featuring many state and city leaders.

"So, it's a very contentious issue," said State Senator Scott Beason. "…and I see the only way to solve it is, and put it to bed is, to have a vote of some kind."

In order for the issue to actually get to the people, Beason says a bill to allow a vote must be voted on by the Alabama Legislature. Before that happens, Gardendale city leaders to need to give the green light.

"Yes indeed, we need Gardendale to say we can financially afford to take on these 1,700 homes that we're talking about in Mount Olive."

Gardendale Mayor Othell Phillips says that is not as easy as it sounds.

"It took us approximately a year and half to look at the financial feasibility of the school system. So it's going to take us some time to look at annexation, and that's all we're asking for is a little time," said Phillips.

While due diligence seems to be a necessary evil, it does not make it any easier for the people left waiting and wondering where their children will go to school.

"The quicker we get this resolved, it's better for the people of Gardendale, to know the fate of their neighbor," said Goolsby.

A meeting between state and city leaders is set for Tuesday in Montgomery.

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