PARKER: Citizens will have a voice in shaping the future for students in Madison City Schools tomorrow
Editor’s note: The following is a message from Madison City Schools superintendent Robby Parker on the eve of a special election to decide the fate of a proposed 12-mill tax increase. Madison City Schools said it needs this because enrollment is growing. It needs to build a new elementary school, a middle school, and additions to both high schools. The polls will open at 7 a.m. tomorrow and close at 7 p.m.
Tomorrow, the citizens of Madison and Triana will have a voice in shaping the future for students in Madison City Schools for years to come.
If the scheduled 12 mil-tax vote is successful, we will build new schools to address overcrowding, enhance safety and security within our schools and continue to add innovative instructional programs for our students that allow them to compete globally.
In 1993, officials and community leaders asked our citizens to vote an 11-mil property tax on themselves. That bold move provided immeasurable benefit for students and led to the formation of Madison City Schools. I was a 29-year-old schoolteacher living in Madison with a 3-year-old and a stay-at-home wife. It was tough, but I believed in the vision as did a majority of voters. We all now see the wisdom of that investment. I am so thankful for the leadership and citizens of Madison back then that gave my children and thousands of children a chance to get a world class education.
Tomorrow, it is our time as leaders and citizens to decide what the next 20 years will look like. Unlike the citizens of yesteryear who took the courageous steps to tax themselves for a yet unknown, voters have a track record with a world class school system to guide their decision tomorrow. I invite everyone to look at any data measuring academic and financial rankings to see how Madison City Schools has been good stewards of its resources.
You all know that our schools are very crowded. As of Friday, we had 11,718 students. That is 285 more than we finished with in May 2019. Since May 2018, we have grown 877 students. We will continue to grow this year and in years to come as our city grows.
Our schools are at or near capacity. Here are the facts: PreK Center, 100%; Rainbow, 80%; Columbia, 91%; Heritage, 89%; Mill Creek, 97%; West Madison, 97%; Madison Elementary, 98%; Horizon, 94%; Discovery, 93%; Liberty , 99%; Bob Jones, 83%; James Clemens, 94%.
When our teachers and principals see these numbers, they always question them. They say “there is no way we are ONLY ______% full.” Parents who are in the schools consistently say the same thing.
My point is this. We are using every possible option in each school as classrooms. We are taking workrooms, broom closets, computer labs, art and music rooms to create classrooms. In all 4 secondary schools, there are teachers that go classroom to classroom with a cart throughout the day. Our kids are getting great instruction, but we are full. Some lunches start as early as 9:30 to accommodate the overcrowding. In order for our kids to have the best opportunities to compete globally, we simply have to have more classroom space for them.
If the tax passes, we will immediately begin to build a 900-student elementary school and a 1,200-student middle school. We will also expand capacity at James Clemens and Bob Jones by 500-students each, and make safety and security improvements to the schools as well.
We should know the outcome of the vote Tuesday night. Just like last Friday’s football game, I do not know how it will turn out. I think I do, but I don’t know for sure. What I do know is this. On Wednesday morning, the teachers, staff and I are still going to love your kids with all of our hearts. Class will begin on time and I will still have a smile on my face because I still have over 11,000 kids that make me happy each day.
I will talk to everyone on Wednesday.