Madison City Schools and City Council discuss devastating $1.7 million funding deficit

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. –  Under attack and drowning, that's how Madison City Schools Superintendent, Dee Fowler, described Madison City Schools in a joint meeting.

Wednesday night the school system and Madison City Council gathered to discuss funding and taxes.  Specifically they discussed tax money from 1,800 students living on the Limestone County side of Madison, that isn’t going to the district.

It was a jam packed meeting, with the Madison City Council and School Board, Senator Bill Holtzclaw and Limestone County Commissioner, Jason Black, all gathered together to discuss the tough reality the school system is facing.

"We don't have $1.7 million that we had last year,” said Fowler. “And we've got to find a way to balance our budget."

So for 1,800 students in Limestone County going to Madison City Schools, they aren't seeing their TVA monies, property tax, or sales tax reflected in their schools.

"The only one that's in litigation at this time is the property tax," explained Fowler.

The rest is hopeful to be worked out through coming together with Limestone County officials.

"It just needs to be solved in a boardroom rather than a courtroom. At this point the only people who are benefiting are the lawyers," stated Senator Holtzclaw.

Well, it's certainly not Madison City Schools benefiting, rather they are feeling the dramatic impact of the deficit.

"We let go people that we would have retained because the budget considerations,” explained Madison City School board member, David Hegenroeder. “We reduced the number of activities we have and reduced the number of teachers we have next year."

Superintendent Fowler said two major programs that may be cut are technology and maintenance.  Parents also say they're worried for their property value and quality of education.

"I want my dollars to follow my kids,” expressed concerned parent, LaKeisha Richards. “I want them to benefit from the taxes we're paying."

LaKeisha Richards moved to Limestone in the Madison city limits intentionally.

"So it's very disheartening to see the money is not being allocated the way we thought it would be," shared Richards.

The Madison City School Board is hopeful about negotiations with Limestone County on their sales tax.

As for TVA funding, that is expected to be brought up this February in the legislative session.

There will be a community meeting Friday, May 20 at noon at the Madison School Board to further discuss the issues.

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