MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) — Madison City Schools will welcome more than 12,000 students back to class on Wednesday.

“We ended the year somewhere between 300 to 350 more students than we began the year with and we will probably do that again this year,” says Superintendent Ed Nichols.

The district has several ongoing construction projects; a special education wing, the re-worked parking lot at Bob Jones, as well as new HVAC replacements in several schools.

“We’ve been trying to do all that in about 38 days,” Nichols said. “Summer is a pretty challenging time but it’s the only time we have so those are probably the big things we have had going on this summer.”

On top of all of that, the district continues to work on the new Journey Middle School, which was supposed to open tomorrow but has been delayed due to supply chain issues.

“We did a survey of our parents about opening in the middle of the year and they overwhelmingly said let’s stay where they are and then we will start moving in next fall,” says Nichols.

And as the district builds physically, they are also focused on building up students’ education experiences after years of virtual learning.

“We were so excited this summer when the reading scores came out and our third graders were at 94% proficiency,” Nichols continued. “Coming out of COVID they made up a lot of ground with after-school programs and summer programs.”

Nichols says despite all the ongoing changes, teachers and staff are excited to welcome students back

“First day always has its challenges, a little slow buses, slow car lines. There are always some hiccups but we will get through it in the next few days, just be patient a little bit,” says Nichols.

Discovery Middle School Principal Jamie Hill told News 19 the school and staff are prepared for the extra chunk of student population that would otherwise attend the new Journey Middle School.

“When I came in January we had a little over 1300 students, around 1,375. We’re right there again today. I think we’ll grow a little bit,” Hill said.

“We have a great district. A lot of families moving in hence Journey opening up. I think we’ve prepared. Our staff’s been great. Our district’s staff has been very straightforward with us on how we should handle it. I assure our community that we go over and above to support and make sure that we’re prepared for our kids,” he said.