Leaders have questions regarding school flex bill - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Leaders have questions regarding school flex bill

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The Alabama Accountability Act will give schools flexibility to break rank and try new educational approaches. The Alabama Accountability Act will give schools flexibility to break rank and try new educational approaches.
MADISON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) -

The Alabama Accountability Act will give schools flexibility to break rank and try new educational approaches. The bill also gives parents options if they live in poorly performing districts.

Under this bill, students can go to another school in the district if the school for which they are zoned does not meet certain criteria.

The bill provides a tax credit for parents who choose to leave a failing school for a private school, and it also gives the criteria for a failing school. Now it is up to the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) to determine which schools fall in that category.

Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Dr. Casey Wardynski held a news conference on this issue. He has several questions, including the determination of failing schools and the cost.

The ALSDE said it does not use the same distinction that is in the legislation when defining if a school is failing. In fact, they were unable to give a list of any failing schools across the state on Friday.

Senator Bill Holtzclaw helped pass the legislation. On Monday, he pulled out the legislation and read word for word what it said on page six - the section that defines a failing school.

Essentially, a failing school is a school in the bottom 10 percent in state standardized tests in math and reading.

Holtzclaw said he knows there are failing schools in Alabama. He said there are less than 100 schools that he believes are failing and would be impacted by this new law.

He has not released that list of failing schools at this time.

"Late last night, I asked for a list of chronically failing or systems in the state, and I received a list of about 71 schools, 75 schools that were listed on that. That list came from a contact in the governor's office, but it also, to my knowledge, came from the state department of education," said Holtzclaw.

Superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler said they plan to have a public meeting about it, and he anticipates some strong feelings about non-Madison students attending Madison City Schools.

Fowler is not sure what kind of financial implications this new legislation will have either.

He said he is not sure if they will accept any non-Madison in the short term or even the long term. He said they will hash out a new policy in the next few weeks, but it comes down to whether or not their schools have enough space.

"I don't know if we would be good for a few years if we opened our doors to take other students in from out of district because all of our demographic studies have been composed of only looking at kids in the city of Madison and the town of Triana," said Fowler.

A spokesperson with the ALSDE released this statement:

Dr. Bice has determined he needs time for he and his staff to review HB84 in its entirety before drafting an official statement or conducting any interviews.

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