Madison School Board Passes Safeguard Measure to Prevent Transfers

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MADISON, Ala. — As expected, the Madison School Board approved a stop gap measure to protect the district against a possible onslaught of students seeking to transfer from failing schools.

The “interim criteria” the board agreed to is a response to the Legislature’s passage last week of theĀ Alabama Accountability Act. The controversial bill pushed through by Republicans gives tax credits to the families of children at “failing schools” so those children could attend private school or a better performing public school, in or outside its normally designated district.

Gov. Robert Bentley was expected to sign the bill into law this week, but a Montgomery Circuit Judge blocked the measure Tuesday. The issue was still in limbo Thursday night.

Madison schools this fall identified overcrowding on the near horizon as the city continues its rapid growth. The district has grown by an average of 350 students each of the past three years. The board is studying how to offset the overcrowding with rezoning and will have its first public hearing on the subject March 21 at 6 p.m. at the central office.

The uncertainty of what space would be available at any of its schools helped prompt the board to take interim action until its rezoning issues are settled.

Madison School Board Attorney Woody Sanderson said with all the uncertainties, the district can expect parent inquiries, and administrators need to be able reassure those already in the system that their children won’t be impacted while also have a policy it can cite to parents of failing schools that they don’t need apply at the moment, “and not give false hope to anyone.”

“As far as I know, you may be on the cutting edge of this,” Sanderson said of the policy.

Currently, the only non-resident students allowed to enroll in the district are those admitted through an agreement with the Town of Triana; those students who live outside the district but have parents who work for Madison City Schools; and homeless students admitted in accordance with the McKinney Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act.

The state has not specified how failing schools will be identified, but parents convinced their children would perform better with a transfer have already begun to make inquiries.

Madison School Superintendent Dee Fowler said he has already received calls from parents who think their children are enrolled in failing schools.

From our news partners The Huntsville Times/