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MADISON, Ala. — City leaders joined Madison City Schools officials in a ceremonial groundbreaking of the newest school to join the district, Midtown Elementary School.

The demand for more classrooms is high in Madison, with over 450 additional students that enrolled in the past year.

With even more students on the way, the 128,000-square-foot, 900-student capacity school is off Wall Triana Highway just north of the Kroger development.

Though construction began a few months ago, the ceremonial groundbreaking kept getting pushed back. But it seems like the third time’s the charm, with it being held Wednesday with masks and social distancing.

“We stand here today ushering in the next 20 years of the Madison City School District with a new elementary school for its children here at Midtown Elementary,” said Tim Holtcamp, the president of the Madison City Board of Education.

With elementary growth outpacing secondary education by nearly three to one, Madison City Schools is making more room for more students.

“Well we are growing and we’re excited about that,” said Ed Nichols, the Madison City Schools Superintendent. “It has its challenges, I mean, it’s a challenge when you gain 3, 4, 500 kids a year but we’ll make it happen.”

Nichols says the new school will help keep overcrowding down at other schools.

“We’re moving to the maximum capacity at our schools and so this helps us by being able to shift around and maintain that level at each school before we reach a peak,” he added.

Madison Mayor Paul Finley spoke about how the newly passed property tax helped the school system.

“I’m so proud to have worked with the team and represent a group of folks that helped our community understand why they should reinvest in our community again by increasing their property tax,” said the mayor.

Midtown Elementary is funded from the property tax increase that residents voted for last year.

“When the community reached out and voted overwhelmingly to do this, then it really gives us, not only the opportunity to build the elementary school and the middle school, but also in the future to look at additions,” said Nichols.

The district also plans to construct a new middle school, expand Bob Jones and James Clemens High Schools, and repurpose West Madison Elementary to become a new pre-k school.

Midtown Elementary is slated to open in the Fall of 2021. The school’s mascot will be the Wildcats, which is a carryover from West Madison as a way to honor them.

Construction on the new middle school in Madison will get under way in the coming months. That school, which has yet to be named, will be built off Celtic Drive adjacent the Central Office.