MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - Madison County Superintendent Matt Massey did not use the clichéd phrase "The state of our school system is strong," but he did speak about the many advances the rural district has made despite limitations to their budget.
Like so many of these speeches, Superintendent Massey praised his district for achievements over the last 365 days.
“From last year to this year, we had a very nice gain in our ACT aspire math scores. We went from 50 bench-marking to 58 bench-marking," Massey told the crowd.
In addition to 58% of students scoring higher than a 22 on their ACT Aspire math test, Massey bragged about a new virtual school program and higher graduation rates.
"We went from 87 to 93 percent in just a couple of years. That really is a credit to our counselors, our teachers and our administrators," he said.
Not all of the speech was boastful.
“Completely unacceptable," said Massey. “We don’t have a municipal funding mechanism like a lot of other city systems do.”
It's not a new problem for Madison County; without city funding, Madison County receives 62 million dollars less in local funding than Huntsville City Schools.
“This is not something to be proud of, we would love to say hey look at how low funded we are - no, we want to do more for our students," he said.
That places the district, 118th out of 137 districts in the state. That's low even for Alabama, who ranks 42nd nationally in education spending.
“Every other county in this picture on this map in North Alabama, is they have a one cent countywide sales tax," Massey explained.
Madison County only has a half cent countywide sales tax. Massey hopes either that will change, or corporate sponsors will help make up the difference.
“We need your help. We need your partnerships, but it’s also a credit to our people of how strong we are," said Massey.
Massey also pledged to continue increasing the county's graduation rate and says next year, even more advanced placement classes will be offered at all of the system's high schools.