WZDX News got a first-hand look at the growth putting too much pressure on the Madison City School system.
Classrooms are already feeling the impacts from the overcrowded schools and on a drive through the area you can see why. That’s exactly what WZDX did Monday on a bus full of school board members and led by the superintendent.
The school bus went through dozens of subdivisions being built. The superintendent wants you to see the growth in action to understand how much he says the 12 mil property tax increase is needed.
A drive through Madison and Triana shows empty lots becoming homes and field after field becoming subdivisions.
“None of this was here two years ago,” said Madison City Schools Superintendent Robby Parker on the drive through a subdivision.
Parker says more than 3,000 new homes are approved to be built, leading to almost 2,000 more students.
“You’re going to see that every school is at 90-plus percent capacity,” he said.
The school system regarded as one of the best now has the 5th worst student to teacher ratio in the state. It’s expected to top 12,000 students this school year.
“We’re not going to be able to offer this world-class education we’ve been offering for 20 years if we don’t have places to put children,” Parker said. “We’re going to be teaching classes in gymnasiums, in fact we took a small gymnasium this year for Mill Creek elementary school that was for special needs population, we took it and we created classrooms in it. We’re starting to eat lunch sometimes at 10:15 in the morning and eating all the way until 1:30 and that’s going to continue to spread out. That’s not optimum for us to start feeding children at 10 or 11 in the morning.”
The plan is to build new elementary and middle schools and add on to the high schools with money from the 12 mil property tax increase. That is, if it passes the September vote.
“We’ve run out of room. It’s just simply we’ve run out of room!” Parker said. “And so we’ve got to have an additional revenue source to pay for this explosive growth.”
Parker says growth means more opportunities with what the schools can offer, but that’s only if they can fit everyone in.
The trip hit home for board members on the bus. The board president says you really understand the severity of their situation when you see it.