Schools outline accomplishments, and address needed improvements at 2019 State of the Schools

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - For the 7th year, Madison City, Madison County, and Huntsville City Schools came together for the 2019 State of Schools. The superintendents of each school system outlined their accomplishments and where improvements are needed.

The education of 54,000 area students in the three school districts was mapped out as businesses and education communities came together Wednesday to lay out a plan to improve their learning environment.

Madison City Schools Superintendent Robby Parker said he is proud of the diversity in the schools. Madison City was one of the few districts that received an "A" from the Alabama Department of Education in every individual school.

He said the biggest challenge they face is growth.

"It's imperative that we move into a new middle and a new elementary school in 2021," said Parker. "And we are going to the legislature this spring, and we're asking that our citizens be allowed to vote on a 12-mil property increase."

On the other hand, in Madison County Schools, Superintendent Matt Massey said their student population has stayed steady for the last ten years.

"What that's allowed us to do is we've caught up with that. Is to really improve the quality of our buildings," Massey said. "We bid a roof at New Hope Elementary for over a million dollars to fix the roof there. So that's going to get them through the next 25 years or so."

Massey said they have good numbers of students taking AP courses, as well as workforce development and internships.

Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Christie Finley said finances are their biggest challenge. An accounting error led to over $5 million needing to be pulled from this year's budget.

She said they are working to cut back spending without impacting the classroom.

"We outsource some of our services with PESG contract, so instead of adding a lot of positions ... is there are some that aren't needed, we aren't filling them," Finley said.

She said the school system has seen improvements on both the state and their internal report cards, and they have taken major steps to improve safety.

All of the superintendents agreed it is important that classes not only prepare students for college but also for the workforce, stressing the importance of co-op opportunities, internships, and workforce developments.

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