Parker discusses future, growth demands
MADISON – Growth. This one, simple word has filled the thoughts of many Madison educators and parents in recent months. As the City of Madison expands, Madison City Schools is racing to accommodate an increased student population without a commensurate revenue stream.
Ashton Jah at Bob Jones High School recently authored a thorough overview, “The Future of Madison City Schools: Plans and Projects” for “Patriot Pages.” (bjhspatriotpages.com/news)
“We’re growing at a fast rate, and with growth comes many challenges. The biggest challenge we are facing is that we do not have enough room for everyone,” Parker said. “We are in a constant state of building, and right now we have a lot of debt for these new buildings and additions.”
MCS holds the highest rate for debt per student in Alabama.
On March 7, Madison Board of Education agreed to move sixth-graders to Liberty and Discovery middle schools in the 2018-2019 school year. The only other possible option was rezoning. Renovations are now underway to expand Liberty’s gymnasium and cafeteria and add 16 new classrooms, according to Jah.
“This is a good move academically for our students and will also help us balance our enrollment from our near-capacity elementary schools and our two middle schools,” Parker said on March 29.
A transition team will guide the transition of sixth-grade classes to their new locations. “The 60-member committee is comprised of parents, elementary and secondary teachers, counselors, special education representatives, principals, several board of education members and school district officials,” MCS Public Relations Manager John S. Peck said.
In other improvements, special education students now will attend only two schools, Columbia and Rainbow elementary schools (not Mill Creek). This change allows students “to continue their elementary years mostly all the way through and transfer to James Clemens for secondary schooling,” according to Jah.
In addition, Parker is promoting a secondary language by graduation. Elementary students are studying Spanish, while middle-schoolers can enroll in French, Spanish and Latin.
In STEM concerns, Parker said, “We’re a math and science community. In our elementary schools, we have not been doing a great job to keep them going in the future. We’re going to try and give them more opportunities so we can allow our top students to run.”
Parker repeatedly emphasizes the importance of creating the ideal place for students, generation after generation, to confirm they are prepared for global success.