MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) — Madison City Schools’ Transportation Director Bobby Jackson says he and other members of his department have read Alabama House Bill 84 in its entirety. Jackson says where the rubber hits the road with transportation officials in regard to the bill is the ability to continue to effectively get Madison students to school.
Page 19 of The Alabama Accountability Act reads:
“If a parent requests that the student be enrolled in a nonfailing public school within the same local school system, transportation costs to the nonfailing public school shall be the responsibility of the local school system.”
“It says parents can choose to go to another school in another system though if they transport the child,” Jackson points out, “it does not say we would have to transport, say from Huntsville or Madison County but the parents would be responsible.”
Jackson says additional cuts due to tax credits coming out of the education trust fund may mean service lapses within many school programs.
“Whenever they have to make cuts, transportation is one of the first things that has to be cut,” says Jackson. “And we are being paid at 79 percent of what our budget should be so that means 21 percent of my budget has to come from the general fund or the school system.”
Luckily, Madison has no schools that qualify as failing but Jackson says he knows this is not just about his district, schools that are suffering all over the state.
“The law says any school in the State of Alabama, so in other words a parent in Mobile could send their kid to our school system if our superintendent and board and board accepts them,” says Jackson.
The transportation director says getting creative is nothing his staff are strangers to.
“It just puts pressure on us to try to do what we can to make sure we get these kids to and from school on these buses.”
Despite the potential need to go back to the drawing board when it comes to costs and logistics, Jackson says Madison City Schools Superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler is behind all departments 100 percent.
The Madison School system is ever-growing. Bobby Jackson says the transportation department serves upwards of 4,800 students every weekday. Jackson says his department added 5 new bus routes this year alone.