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The Madison Record

City Schools Board steps up when times are tough

The Madison City Schools Board of Education has put the finishing touches on the 2011 budget, and the outlook is not what everyone had hoped for.

However, considering the current economic climate, the 2011 budget is as good of a budget that you’ll find anywhere in the state.

On the surface, the $88 million in revenue and $115 million in expenses looks unbalanced, but the board has planned for this.

The nearly $28 million disparity between expenses and revenue will be covered by reserve funds the board put away for construction of the new high school.

A new high school is necessary, and has been in the plans for years.

Bob Jones High is currently the largest school in the state, and the system must alleviate some of the burden being placed on that institution.

Not only has the board been planning, internally and economically, for the new high school, but they’ve also been planning for 2012.

The ancient Mayan civilization warned of this year, but not in the sense of what the school system will experience next year.

In 2012, money from the last stimulus package will dry up, in addition to the prospect of looming proration.

During the first required budget hearing Sept. 2, David Smith, the system’s financial advisor, warned the board of the impending date, but he also praised the board, Superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler and the local government.

Because local sales tax revenues and the 10-mil property tax have remained steady, the school system has not experienced the doom and gloom that other systems around the state have experience.

And that’s because of dedicated leaders ranging from the superintendent, the board, the principals, teachers and city officials.

The people in Madison realize that it’s the schools that keep this city a hotspot for families moving to the area.

It’s the schools that are building our future, and we must do everything we can to invest in them.

In addition to talking about the economic downturn, the board also addressed student populations and student-to-teacher ratios during the recent hearing.

Although Fowler said he would like to see the student-to-teacher ratios in K-6 be a little closer than what they currently are, the ratios are close, and much better than other districts across the state,

The student population at all schools has slowed in recent years, which can be considered a good thing or a bad thing.

Currently, the slowed enrollment is a good thing as the system must be as conservative as possible to weather the economic storm.

While portions of Thursday’s budget presentation seemed to paint a grim picture of the current and future fiscal state of the system, the overall assessment of the 2010 budget, the 2011 budget and beyond is that we have the right leaders in place to ensure the same top-notch quality of education continues through 2012 and beyond.

The leaders we have in place at the Central Office, at each school, at city hall and beyond are looking out for our kids, and for that we should be thankful.

Not everyone, or every municipality, has been as fortunate as we are here, and that’s because of the leaders we have in place.

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