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County system faces crowded school

By By Thomas Tingle
Record Managing Editor
Ease overcrowded high schools. Build new schools. Shift students around and where will the money come from to do it all with?
These ideas and concerns are facing the members of the Madison County Board of Education as the new school year is set to begin in less than a week and as one of the states fasted growing school systems continues to get bigger and bigger.
To keep up with the increase in student enrollment in the Madison County School system, school officials may consider moving ninth grade students out of Sparkman and Hazel Green high schools and creating new schools for fourth through sixth grade students.
School officials say the idea would cost less to do than to build another high school between the two. Other options include moving students around throughout the school system that feeds into Sparkman and Hazel Green.
Under consideration by the board would be building two smaller schools to house fourth through sixth grades in Meridianville and Monrovia areas – two of the fastest growing areas in Madison County. The idea would take ninth grade students out of Sparkman and Hazel Green, create junior high schools for seventh, eighth and ninth grade students at Meridianville Middle School, Sparkman Middle School and Monrovia Middle School.
Sixth grade students would be put in the new Meridianville and Monrovia area schools.
Also, additional classroom space would be created at Hazel Green, Lynn Fanning, Monrovia and Endeavor elementary schools – thus eliminating portable classrooms by shifting fourth through sixth graders out of those buildings.
The new fourth through sixth grade schools would have an enrollment between 800-900 students based on current and projected student enrollment figures.
By taking the ninth grade out of Sparkman and Hazel Green, enrollment at Sparkman would be reduced from 1,800 students to slightly more than 1,300 students with Hazel Green seeing a decrease in its enrollment from 1,099 to between 800 and 900 students. Sparkman High School is the largest high school in the county's system – second in size to Grissom High School in the Huntsville City Schools System.
School officials project as many as 400 more students will be added to the system in the 2002-2003 school year, bringing the total number of students in the system at 16,525.
The school board will consider other options before making any final decisions.

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