Madison City Schools creates consistency for students with special needs through school construction

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MADISON, Ala. –  Rainbow and Columbia Elementary schools are under construction, preparing to host more students with special needs. Currently, these students have to change schools every couple of years. The district is now trying to make the students’ education more consistent.

“She’s more typical than she is different,” Russ Wilson said of his daughter, Eleanor.

Eleanor is a Madison City Schools student who splits her school day between a special education classroom and a typical classroom. The district’s new plan for special education will benefit Eleanor.

“We’ll get more dual certification teachers in the typical classrooms,” Wilson said.

Crews are renovating Rainbow and Columbia Elementary Schools this summer preparing the buildings to host children who are developmentally delayed.

“We would be looking at fitting the playground into adaptive swings, having the accessibility for wheelchairs to get across the playground,” Maria Kilgore, Director of Special Education, said of some of the renovations.

The changes mean students with special needs will either attend Rainbow or Columbia from kindergarten through sixth grade, which is good news for student Samuel Evers.

“Rather than the old system where we moved schools every couple of years, you had to get used to new environments, now it’s more streamlined,” Sam Evers, Samuel’s father, said about the changes.

“Now these children are going to school with children in their neighborhoods, they’ll be in their feeder patterns,” Superintendent Robby Parker said.

This school year, students living in east Madison will attend Rainbow Elementary, then Discovery Middle and finally Bob Jones High School. Those who call west Madison home will attend Columbia Elementary, then Liberty Middle School and finally James Clemens High School.

“They’re about the only kids that I would say will be immune to rezoning because we’re preparing these schools for them,” Parker said.

School board members approved more than a quarter of a million dollars to renovate the elementary schools. School leaders estimate the buildings hold around 30 children with special needs at each.