Fowler: Tax dispute in mediation
MADISON – With the 2016-2017 school year underway for two months, Dr. Dee Fowler recently updated school families about the latest concerns and successes on Madison City Schools (MCS) campuses.
“Everywhere I go I get asked about the Limestone funding issue. Honestly, I am so pleased that you are asking,” Fowler said. “It shows how engaged our community is with this issue.”
“Currently, we are in a period of mediation. A gag order has been placed on the participants to ensure confidentiality. All I can report is that the mediation is ongoing,” Fowler said.
Comparing 2015 figures to 2016, MCS has increased by 369 students, Fowler said. “Our state funding for this year is based on the number of students that we had last year. This means that our money and teachers are calculated on 9,856 students instead of 10,225 students.”
“The state has only budgeted $300,000 to help us pay for the new teachers,” Fowler said. ” We will spend more than a million dollars of local money for their salaries. This is money that we would prefer to be spending on programs that make MCS unique.”
A “growth committee” has been formed with parents, city leaders, teachers, Madison Board of Education members and school administrators. “We will be completely out of elementary classroom space between the 2018-2019 school year and the 2019-2020 school year. Our high schools will reach capacity between school years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022,” Fowler said.
The growth committee will “examine which campuses can best accommodate portables, determine if we have a school where we can add permanent classrooms and how we can rezone to maximize our space,” Fowler said. He anticipates a rezoning at all levels — elementary, middle and high school.
Unofficially, the board hopes to ‘grandfather’ high school students on their current campus. “Our best district-wide solution would be to build a new elementary school and begin planning for our third high school. Regrettably, we do not have the revenue stream to do either. That is why the work of (the growth committee) is so important,” Fowler said.
“The issues above are very real, to which we, the adults, must find viable solutions. We will continue to try to isolate and insulate our students from these challenges,” he said. “Our students are working so hard and bringing great honor to our district and to you every day.”