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Growth committee: Larger population threatens MCS quality

MADISON – After months of study, Madison Schools Growth Impact Committee has concluded one overall caution: “Without timely action, overcrowding due to Madison’s residential growth will threaten our premier public school system.”

The growth committee released its final report in a joint meeting with Madison City Council and Madison Board of Education on March 22 at Madison City School’s Central Office. Organized in 2017, the 14-member committee has strategized the requirements for MCS to maintain its high caliber as the city’s population continues to expand.

Throughout its study, Madison Schools Growth Impact Committee has used three possible growth scenarios:

* Case 1 — Halt growth now with slight overcrowding. With the current growth trajectory, MCS will need a new middle school and a new elementary school. In addition, Bob Jones and James Clemens high schools must expand, or the district must build a third high school. Cost will be $116 million (11 mills).

* Case 2 — Control growth but MCS will face significant overcrowding without additional facilities. Cost will be $216 million for new elementary, middle and high schools (20 mills).

* Case 3 — Allow unrestricted growth and potential for massive overcrowding.

In addition, new jobs in Madison and Limestone counties will attract families to move to ‘greater Madison.’

The growth committee released several conclusions:

* “City Leadership needs to formalize a growth policy that can regulate residential development. A target population number should be expressed.”

* “Significant new MCS debt is not supported by existing revenue until 2034.” “Credit card is maxed.”

* “There is no debate concerning the need for new schools at elementary / middle school levels.”

* “Most significant challenge is solving the high school situation. If Case 2 or Case 3 is followed, a new high school will be necessary. If growth is capped at approximately 65,000 residents, additions may be built at each high school.”

City and school officials will schedule more public hearings in upcoming weeks for citizen input. To access the report, visit madisoncity.k12.al.us, click “Joint Growth Study Final Report on School Needs/Funding Options/Population Projections” and click “Final Report.”

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