Madison County Commission and superintendents stress importance of renewing school tax

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. -- The Ad Valorem School Tax is up for renewal, to be voted on in the December 2017 election. Today, the Madison County Commission passed a resolution that shows their support for the tax, and urges voters to do the same.

Without the school tax, Madison County's public school systems would look very different. The County Commission and school superintendents want to stress, "There has been some confusion that this is a new tax, and I think that's the biggest point of clarification. It's not a new tax, it's simply a tax renewal," explained Dr. Matt Akin.

Akin, Huntsville City Schools Superintendent, said the tax is about 15 percent of their operating budget. "If you look at cutting $37.5 million out, obviously it impacts the programs that we have that are impactful to our students, and we're really proud of the opportunities we give our students."

Madison City Schools also faces a dilemma if the tax doesn't pass, losing about $6.5 million a year.

"We have big class sizes, and the reason is because we have a lot of people moving to Madison. We've had to build a lot of new schools in the last twenty years since we've become a district," explained Superintendent Robby Parker.

Parker said they have some of the largest student to teacher ratios in the state. This is critical for them to be able to continue to provide their students with the excellence they already have in place. "Where it affects us most really is in the elementary schools, and so not renewing this tax would be devastating to us," he said.

For the commission's part, Chairman Dale Strong said, "Education is critical, and we've got to be sure we've got a solid three public school systems."

There are two county-wide taxes, and two district taxes to vote on.