Madison growth impacting school enrollment

MADISON, Ala. -- Madison City Schools are seeing a significant amount of growth. They're expected to be at 94% capacity district-wide if growth hits the estimated 650 students this year.

And if it grows the same amount the following year, they will be over capacity.

"We've gotta have a place to put everybody and we're running out of space," says Robby Parker, Madison City Schools Superintendent. "We just need an additional revenue source and an additional revenue source is being presented to our community as a 12-mill tax increase."

To give perspective to the residential boom, Parker held a school bus tour for WHNT News 19 and the Board of Education.

While looking out on a quickly-growing street, Parker referenced a famous movie.

"If you've ever seen the movie Jaws when they're out and the first time they see the shark, they say 'We're going to need a bigger boat'... When I hadn't ridden down this road in a couple of weeks, I came back and said 'We're going to need some bigger schools.'"

Enrollment grew 1,603 students in the last four years, not including this coming school year, which presented issues.

The schools begin eating in shifts from 10:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and it will continue to spread out with more students, says Parker. They have turned teacher workrooms and gyms into classrooms to fit the amount of students.

Parker said the quality of education provided in Madison City Schools depends on the learning environments students are placed in. Overcrowded schools do not always foster educational growth.

The school board says the portables are not an option because of new state storm shelter requirements.

Parker says they welcome the growth to Madison, the schools have just run out of room. "We've got to have an additional revenue source to pay for this explosive growth."

Madison City School system is encouraging citizens to vote during a special election scheduled for September 10. Parker said if the increase passes on that day, construction plans will be in motion September 11.

The proposed increase would add $120 in property tax per $100,000 value of a home.

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