MADISON COUNTY, Ala - At his State of the Schools address on Tuesday, Superintendent Matt Massey said he would ask the Madison County Schools Board of Education to fund capital projects that would improve schools around the district.
This is significant because of what is off that 5-year capital plan: the proposed new Monrovia-area high school off Pine Grove Road, which the school system committed to building in 2013.
The school board voted last year to adopt a capital plan, still unfunded, that leaves the school out. Now, Massey says that on Thursday he will ask the board to commit money to the projects on that capital plan and move forward with using funds that could have been spent on a new school.
"The board approved a capital plan in November that is the most comprehensive that we have ever had as a school system," Massey said in his address, referencing the plan. "Thursday, at our board meeting, I will be asking the board to fund those items so we can begin work on them."
Included on the plan are:
- Renovation, upgrade and expansion at Sparkman High School
- Security upgrades at Madison County Schools
- Roofing on New Hope Elementary School
- Corridor repair at New Market School
- HVAC upgrades at Hazel Green Elementary
Massey explained he wants to see these items "well underway" by the end of 2018.
Massey said of his proposed funding request, "This would be a bold move. This would be a bold move for our board and for our school system, but it's also needed." He added, "This action is going to set the course for our students for over the next decade. Our kindergarteners are going to be part of the class of 2030. We have got to have our infrastructure set up to support these students so they can be successful so they can keep achieving at high levels."
The board's moves to distance itself from the new school were a topic of conversation of a recent Madison County Commission meeting in March, when Dale Strong, Chairman, said he worried about the status. He said he wonders if the commission has been misled about the project.
Even before he took office, Massey has questioned whether using the BRAC funds to build the school was best for students.
Now, he will move ahead with using the school system's money, including remaining BRAC funds, to fund repairs he says have been delayed for too long.
The State of the Schools Addressed
Massey also talked about other issues in the district.
He said Pre-K is growing district-wide, the system has earned more Blue Ribbon Schools, which sets the bar for future success, and more students than ever are taking AP exams.
He also said teachers will also receive new computers in their classrooms soon.
"We haven't been able to purchase computers for our teachers in over a decade," he said. "We are now going to be able to offer computers for our teachers to help deliver instruction. We are going to be installing those in the next month and a half."
Massey also mentioned programs the school system is growing, including Green Power racing, cyber competitions, and robotics.
The system is also implementing internship programs for students who have plans beyond graduation.
"We are going to be rolling out a robust internship program next school year. We are working closely with the Chamber [of Commerce]," he noted, "to be able to establish the program for our seniors. They will have opportunities to get real work experience they can still earn credit for."
Massey said despite all these successes, there is a funding problem for the district. He outlined the disparity between how much Madison County Schools receives in local funding, compared to districts surrounding it. He said Madison County Schools therefore spends less money per student, putting them low on the state ranking list for that. Still, he said, students achieve. But the district wants to be able to do more.
Now, he said infrastructure must be a priority to prepare the next generation for the future.