Officials: School system's report card is 'extraordinary'
By By Mitch Freeman Madison County Record
Madison's School System's report card for this school year is in and has been described as "magnificent" and "extraordinary."
Among this year's highlights were that a Presidential Scholar was named, construction began on a new sports stadium, and a family/consumer science teacher was named as the state's best, among this year's highlights.
Bob Jones teacher Judy Brown was named Family and Consumer Science Teacher of the Year. Heritage Elementary second grade teacher Dr. Cathy Nash was named District Eight Teacher of the Year.
Senior Neel Srikishen was named as a Presidential Scholar.
According to Superintendent Dr. Henry Clark, 178 seniors from the Bob Jones class of 2003 earned scholarships. He said 320 students graduated with advanced diplomas and 122 with regular diplomas. There were three National Merit finalist, four semi-finalists and seven commendations.
The Bob Jones tutorial program for students at risk of dropping out of school won the Magna Award from the National School Board Association.
The Bob Jones Spanish Club, drama program and visual arts program are considered the best in the state, Clark said. The Bob Jones girl's soccer team is the 6-A state champion, the boy's basketball team was second in the state and the volleyball team was third in the state.
No teacher layoffs are planned next year as a result of proration, according to Clark. The Madison school system is in good shape because of conservative operation and lean administration.
"We've been conservative. We'll make it through next year," Clark said.
School system report card statistics show that fourth through eighth grade Madison students scored an A on Standard Achievement Tests for reading, language, math and science. Third graders scored an A on reading, language and math SATs. Statewide SAT scores ranged from B to C plus.
Madison seniors scored an A on the Alabama High School Graduation Exam. Of 426 seniors tested, 98.4 percent passed reading, language, math and science tests, compared to a 90.3 percentage pass rate for 38,658 seniors tested statewide.
SAT and graduation exam figures reflect 2002 testing.
Based on students in the ninth grade during 2001-2002, only 2.67 percent of Madison students are projected to drop out. Statewide, the projected percentage is 15.45. Madison scored another A, compared to a C plus statewide.
Of the 320 Madison seniors who took the ACT test, the average score in 2002 was 23.0. Statewide, 25,176 seniors averaged 20.3. The southeastern average is 19.9, the national average is 20.8 and a perfect ACT score is 36.0.
Madison schools spent almost $46 million during its fiscal year. Instruction took the largest bite of the budget at 55.1 percent, according to Clark.
Concerning construction projects, Clark said a bid for some $7.5 million was recently accepted for construction of a new elementary school to be built on Balch Road. He said construction would begin right away and would be very similar in design to Rainbow Elementary.
According to Clark, the new school will able to handle up to 650 students and employ around 40 teachers. He said rezoning would divert some students who now attend Rainbow and Heritage Elementary Schools to the new school.
"The new school must be ready year after next," Clark said.
A new sports stadium is under construction on Celtic Road. Liberty Middle School has a new band room that is 98 percent complete and work will begin this summer on a new roof. Discovery Middle School is in the process of getting a facelift with more than 20 new classrooms and a new band room.
Bob Jones High School is getting interior renovation, including conversion of the band room into a choral room. A family and consumer science "living area" is being built to teach life skills to students with special needs. Stage renovations, new athletic fields and parking space are in the works as well.