The Mobile County school board officially approved amendments to the zoning areas of five elementary schools during a March 24 meeting.

Approximately 500 students at Eichold-Mertz Elementary School will be rezoned to Craighead, Hall, Leinkauf, Maryvale and Morningside elementary schools beginning next August.

The 315 students at Mobile Magnet School in Chickasaw will move into Eichold-Mertz.

The MMS facility was absorbed into the Chickasaw City Schools system when it broke off from the Mobile County Public School System in 2012.

Melissa Valdez-Hubert of the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) said city districts often acquire instructional facilities (schools) within their geographical district after they break off from larger county systems.

“Typically, the new system will take on any debt a building might have,” Hubert said. “There’s usually a separate agreement for magnet and special education facilities as well.”

In the separation agreement between the two systems, Chickasaw allowed MCPSS to use the school through 2016.

However, Mobile County is opting to leave the facility two years ahead of schedule to increase the size of its magnet program and free up needed space for CCS.

“We’ve been there three years, and the primary reason we wanted to vacate early was to increase the size of our magnet program,” said MCPSS Superintendent Martha Peek. “Chickasaw has been every cordial working with us, and as they grow, we want to vacate their facility for whatever use they may have for it.”

The move will put the Eichold-Mertz Magnet School of Math and Science into the geographical area of the MCPSS district, along with the six other magnet schools.

Peek said the new location on Highway 90 would be convenient for parents, as transportation isn’t currently provided for elementary magnet school students.

“Eichold-Mertz has a capacity of about 800 students,” Peek said. “We’re not going to expand it to that level right now, but additional students will be accepted because there is now adequate space to house them.”

A lottery system is used to select the students who attend Mobile’s magnet schools, and those students must maintain at least a C average to remain in the program.