Board commends PTAs’ advocacy in tax vote

MADISON, TRIANA – On Sept. 10, voters in Madison and Triana showed their approval and passed a 12-mill tax increase for Madison City Schools. PTA members on Madison campuses worked tirelessly to promote the extra funding for MCS students.

At their Sept. 24 meeting, Madison Board of Education recognized local PTAs for their advocacy for the tax increase.

For Stephenie Walker, the primary reason to get involved in the tax referendum campaign was safety. Walker serves as President of Discovery Middle School PTA and Secretary of Madison City PTA Council.

“It’s simply not safe to continue to add to the schools’ population and the student-teacher ratio, which is already among the worst in the state without the overcrowding,” she said. “It’s hard for the teachers to teach and the students to learn when a basic lack of space makes classroom management so difficult.”

Walker has seen firsthand the overcrowding, especially in the middle schools. “If you’ve never seen a modern-day middle school class change and doubt that Madison City Schools needed this tax increase, five minutes witnessing that at Discovery will change your mind,” she said.

Her sons won’t see the benefit of a new elementary or middle school because they’ll be high school students after the new schools are built. “But they will both have more room at Bob Jones, as well as invaluable safety and security additions the two high schools badly need,” Walker said.

“Madison’s schools are its crown jewels,” Walker said. She cited outstanding teachers, capable administrators and the district’s continuous successes and honors. “I want that to continue on for years to come, and I’m so relieved that Madison voters see that, too.”

In supporting the tax increase, local PTA members adhered to the National PTA’s mantra to advocate for children and influence education policy. “It’s literally part of our mission!” Walker said.

At Discovery, the PTA invited MCS Superintendent Robert V. Parker to attend the first PTA meeting for the 2019-2020 school year. “We tried to keep parents and teachers informed through social media and newsletters about the facts surrounding the tax plan and how it would be used. We answered questions whenever we could and helped get yard signs to families,” Walker said.

PTA members were open-minded in listening to residents who disagreed with the tax increase. “Several people were unhappy with how growth in Madison has been managed and didn’t understand how the city’s and MCS’ budgets were different,” Walker said.

“Educating and informing residents about those differences was probably our biggest challenge. I personally learned a lot about local education funding and how it’s different across the state,” she said.

Election results: 6,303 FOR (70.5 percent) and 2,639 AGAINST (29.5 percent).

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