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Madison City Schools employees ‘shattered’ by out-of-district fee

MADISON, Ala. - The Madison City Board of Education had a meeting Thursday night to vote on two proposals from Superintendent Robby Parker. The first is a 12-mill property tax for Madison city residents to help fund the growth that the district is experiencing, but the more controversial one is a new fee for out-of-district employees to be able to bring their children into the district to go to school, which is a perk that's been free in the past.

The out of district fee measure passed 4-0, as one board member was absent. They also passed a resolution 4-0 to request the city council start the process toward requesting the state legislature put the property tax increase on a ballot.

A public meeting about the property tax increase will be held during the Madison City Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, November 13, at 6 p.m.

School officials say the proposed tax would add around $120 a year in property taxes per $100,000 of home value.

Teachers and their representatives are upset over the out-of-district fees and spoke out prior to the meeting.

"If this is such a major issue, why hasn't it been brought up before now?" said Beverly Sims, a representative from the Alabama Education Association and spokesperson for the teachers affected by this fee.

The proposed fee is $30 per month per household for out-of-district employees for their children to go to school in Madison City.

"It has honestly shattered some of their worlds, it has shattered them," Sims said.

According to Sims, the teachers that would be affected by this fee feel like the district is breaking a promise made to them when they were hired.

"It was presented to most of them as a perk or a benefit kind of like a recruiting tool to get them to work for the city," Sims said.

They know it's only $30 a month now, but what if that changes further down the road?

"The uncertainty of their children being in Madison City Schools and after three or four years or when they get to high school that the tuition has increased to the point where they can't afford to keep their children there or it creates a financial hardship on them," Sims said.

Their solution? They want the district to grandfather their current teachers, but have a new policy apply to new hires or put a cap on the fee.

"$30 for five years, then reassess, and then maybe it can only increase a certain percentage to give some security to employees," Sims said.

Sims says the affected teachers give above and beyond, just like every other teacher, and they want to continue to work for Madison City but they're not sure they'll be able to stay if the board approves the fee.