MADISON, Ala. - Madison City School leaders say they're relieved to finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.
It's a decade-long dispute on how to allocate taxes to four schools-- Athens City, Limestone County, Madison City and Huntsville City-- all with students living in Limestone County.
"I`m very relieved to say today that we are very close to a final agreement," says Robby Parker, Madison City Schools Superintendent.
A final agreement that would give school systems with students from Limestone County a cut of the taxes.
"It is a compromise, Madison City Schools did not get everything we asked for. It is a compromise. But we feel it is a very good compromise for our children," says Parker.
Parker says "There are over 2,700 students that live in Limestone County. That`s about 25 percent of our population."
The new agreement will give Madison City Schools a share of the 5.5 mill property tax, based on student population percentages. They will also get a share of a one cent sales tax, but revenue from the other one cent sales tax will only go to Limestone County Schools and Athens City.
Parker says they`re happy an agreement has been made, but now there is a bigger problem. "If building continues in Limestone County, it will hurt Madison City Schools," says Ranae Bartlett, Madison City School Board President.
Parker says that's because they're getting less money per students living in Limestone County. "Being that 25 percent of the population, we get a portion of the tax dollars, whereas 75 percent of the population, we get a full portion. That 25 percent where we don`t get everything is very significant."
And that leaves the school system searching for an alternative form of revenue.
The school system has put together a committee to study the growth within the school system, to monitor the number of students coming from Limestone County. "If that growth continues unchecked it will be very difficult for Madison City Schools to provide the level of education that we have been able to provide in the past."
Parker says that could potentially lead to larger class sizes. "Our class size ranks 5th worst in the state."
"We`re running out of room within our schools. Within the next few years we`re going to be maxed out. At James Clemens and Bob Jones, both of them are over 1800 students."
And without a new source of revenue "If we continue to grow at a disproportionate rate on the Limestone County side, that will hurt our overall income," says Bartlett.
Even with the tax money from the settlement "It`s not sufficient to build a single school that we need to take care of the growth."