MADISON, Ala.(WHNT)-The newly released list of failing schools in Alabama was the hot topic at a town hall meeting in Madison Tuesday night.
Rep. Mike Ball (R-Madison) and Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) hosted the forum at Edgewater Community Clubhouse. The pair of state lawmakers ended up fielding a lot of questions about whether or not the new accountability act will fulfill its intended purpose for students in failing schools.
9 of the 78 schools identified by the Alabama Department of Education are located in Huntsville City Schools. Rep. Ball made the case for the new law, which will take effect in the upcoming school year. He told audience members it may have some wrinkles that need to be ironed out, but said it will not have the negative impact some of its opponents have claimed.
“I just don’t expect a massive exodus from the Huntsville schools,” said Ball. “I think Dr. [Casey] Wardynski and our local members have been turning the school system around. I believe most of those schools, if not all of them, are moving in the right direction.”
Some audience members wondered how much of an impact the law would actually have, noting that Madison City and Madison County schools would not be accepting transfers from Huntsville. Others said they opposed taxpayer dollars being used on private school tutition, a potential option for some students.
“The problem I have with it is the $3500 tax credit for a private school,” said one audience member.
“My observation is it’s just a feel-good thing,” noted another woman sitting nearby. “It makes us feel like we’re doing something, and I can’t see anything really changing.”
Rep. Ball voted for the Accountability Act. Sen. Orr also voted for the Accountability Act, but later voted for an amendment by Gov. Robert Bentley to delay implementation by two years. The governor’s amendment was ultimately rejected by lawmakers, allowing the new law to take effect immediately.