Madison BOE Passes Lean Budget; Gets Joint School Growth Committee Report
Posted On:
Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Madison City Board of Education approved a budget for the 2017-18 school year.  

Chief Financial Officer Jana Gray said the emphasis was to protect pupil-teacher ratios, curtail expenses and maintain an adequate fund balance.

The budget reflects the harsh reality of the fast-growing, still-young Madison City school district. With so much tied up in mortgage payments for lots of schools ($165 million) and escalating demands from huge enrollment gains, the board was told the next borrowing window for any major capital project won't be until 2028 and even then will only be $8 million. That stirred concern from school officials, who will face over capacity issues in just a couple of years. 
 "We are at our debt limit. We cannot borrow any more money without additional revenue," said Mrs. Gray. Superintendent Robby Parker said the school district will need a new high school, middle school and elementary within the next 10 years if growth continues at its current place.

Estimated revenue growth in the budget is projected at 3.8 percent. The biggest capital outlay projects $9 million for the Liberty Middle School renovation to accomodate the shift of 6th grades into Madison middle schools next year.  Discovery Middle was formerly a high school and can mostly handle the additional grade.

Compounding the budget pressure this year is the fact $1.2 million in local school funds must be used to help fund new teaching units from Madison's new growth because state allocations trail a year behind. Also, the lingering Limestone County tax dispute will cost the school district $1.8 million this year. Madison City Schools ranks 61st out of 137 school districts in per pupil expenditures which makes its top-ranking performance among peer districts admirable. 

Passage of the budget came against the backdrop of a growth committee report by the Madison Schools Growth Impact Committee.  Co-chairs are former Madison City BOE President Dr. Terri Johnson and former Madison Councilman Mike Potter. Both briefed the school board of initial findings projecting the impact of residential growth on schools.
The focus of the study is to develop a plan to "keep Madison City Schools the best K-12 educational value in the state" by better understanding the impact of city growth.
Several findings were particularly of interest to the board including projections that schools will well exceed capacity in the middle and high schools by 2025. That prompted discussions about funding and citizen willingness to pay more toward education to better prepare students and ensure higher property values on their homes.
View the entire growth report here: http://www.madisonal.gov/DocumentCenter/View/10146

mayor, school superintendent at podium kicking off growth committee

Wide angle group shot of growth committee in board conference room

These are file photos of the Joint Madison City School Growth Committee. The Launch at City Hall,
and the first meeting at the Madison City Board of Education office.