MADISON, Ala. - The Madison Growth Impact Committee presented new data to the Madison City Council Monday, indicating when the school system could overcrowd if action is not taken.
Mike Potter and Terri Johnson, co-chairs of the committee assembled data from Madison City Schools and consultants that indicates the middle schools will reach capacity by 2022, and the high schools by 2024. As it stands, leaders say the school system grows by 150 children per year.
"We know the system is going to break in 2022," said Potter, "and we know it's really going to break in 2024. If we don't have a new middle school and a new high school in that time frame, we are going to start seeing degradation in our Madison City Schools because they are going to be too overcrowded."
Johnson added that the school system must move quickly because any possible new buildings would require time for the city and school district to plan and raise money.
The school system has already taken some action to keep the growth problem at bay and buy some time:
- Passing a resolution to advocate for no new residential annexation in Limestone County
- Settling the Limestone County tax dispute to start receiving some sales and property tax dollars from Limestone County residents who attend Madison schools
- Constructing 16 new classrooms at Liberty Middle School
- Moving 6th grade to middle schools in the upcoming school year (2018-2019)
- Earning votes to renew current district and countywide ad valorem taxes
But Superintendent Robby Parker says the incoming tax dollars will not be enough to build new schools or extra space.
"That's money for operations," said Parker, "but that doesn't build new buildings. And so that's where we are right now-- we are going to need new buildings."
The other solutions have bought time, but were not permanent solutions.
Parker said he and the school board will have a Strategic Plan for Growth Committee review in January. They are considering all options in order to figure out what the district needs to do to combat the growth problem.
Council member Steve Smith pointed out that the issue isn't exactly about needing a new school, but more space that could be added to existing schools.
"Everything is on the table, whether it be additions at the middle and high schools, whether it be a new middle school, even a new high school," said Parker.
The growth committee needs the district's strategic plan before it can then get to work determining the cost and evaluating where that money will come from, said Potter.
"They'll have different options that they consider, and as the committee we will take what they tell us that they need and we will try to figure out how to get it for them," commented Johnson about what's next.
As dire as this sounds, Parker said it may be concerning but he is confident it is something they can overcome.
"We are going to figure it out. And we are going to present a strategic plan to the parents to keep Madison City Schools as some of America's top schools," he assured.