Board considers tuition for teachers’ out-of-district children

MADISON – Without a doubt, Madison City Schools is facing continuous increases in enrollment, which Superintendent Robert V. Parker calls “a growth challenge.”

Parker is proposing a policy change to require teachers who live out-of-district to pay tuition of $360 per family, or $30 monthly, for their children to attend MCS. These teachers can pay by payroll deduction.

Current policy requires out-of-district employees to complete a form annually to request their children’s enrollment. “Our policies and guidelines state that we make the annual decision based on a number of factors, including space,” Parker said.

Parker recommends continuing the policy, although several of Alabama’s top-ranking districts do not allow any out-of-district students to attend. “We value our teachers, whether they live in Madison or outside Madison,” Parker said.   

On Oct. 24, Parker met with teachers to explain the policy change before presenting the proposal to Madison Board of Education for first reading at its Oct. 25 meeting. He committed to pay personally for the $1/day for teachers who can’t afford it. “I do not want one teacher to leave us.”

On Oct. 26, Parker emailed a letter districtwide to MCS employees and parents. He then issued the open letter on social media. In addition, Parker extended an open invitation for anyone to meet in his office at Central Office on Oct. 29 at 4 p.m.

MCS gained 438 students in less than three months — between the end of the 2017-2018 school year in May and the start of the 2018-2019 school year in August. Parker said that number is equal to enrollment today at West Madison Elementary School.

“Before I can ask the residents of Madison (including myself and my family) to vote for a property tax increase, I have to be transparent about a MCS policy that allows any employee who resides outside of Madison to bring their children to MCS,” Parker said. “Of the 1,200 MCS employees today, 150 employees bring 237 students.”

MCS has 604 employees who are Madison residents and pay local property taxes to support education of 11,283 students.

Madison Board of Education will host a work session on Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. in the Central Office’s boardroom. Members of Madison City Council and Triana Town Council will attend. “I will be recommending a property tax increase to build schools and to support the operations of those schools,” Parker said.

“Even if city leaders decide NOT to annex any more land into Madison City limits, our school system is on pace to run out of space in the next 2 to 3 years,” he said.

Parker will explain the proposal to any parent or resident. “I would not be making this recommendation at this time were it not for the situation our school system finds itself in with unprecedented growth,” He said.

“All of us want the same thing … to preserve the high-quality education that you have come to expect of us,” Parker said. “I love every one of you and love our kids, and as long as I am superintendent, I will do whatever it takes to give our kids the best opportunities in America.”

Parker’s letter is available at Facebook/Madison City Schools.

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