MADISON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - There were smiles on the faces of the three local school superintendents Tuesday night as the numbers rolled in from the polls. Along with education advocates, the superintendents have been at the forefront of the push to renew the ad valorem taxes because of the critical funding streams they provide.
Madison County School Superintendent Matt Massey and his team were hunkered down at the central office monitoring results as they came in throughout the evening.
"This is a reflection of the support of the community for our school system and a vote of confidence in our school board and what we're doing going forward. We're proud to represent our people and give our students every opportunity to learn. We want to keep giving those teachers the resources they need to be successful," Massey said.
"This is keeping what we have. This helps us keep the lights and the heat on and run business," he added.
Madison City Schools Superintendent Robby Parker waited for the numbers to come in Tuesday night and he had every confidence in the support from residents as they weighed in at the polls.
Parker has been with the school system for three decades and said it's more than doubled in size in 20 years. The student/teacher ratio is one of the highest in the state due to the explosive growth, highlighting the importance of continued funding.
"We have a very large mortgage. We've built a lot of schools in that period so our house payment is not going to change," Parker said. "We have been a school system for 20 years and the citizens of Madison have always completely and totally supported our school system. We have wonderful kids and wonderful teachers and we're going to continue to produce great kids."
"This is the base, the groundwork for our system. This is not the extras, the icing on the cake, this is just the base," he added.
Dr. Matt Akin, superintendent of Huntsville City Schools, also reacted to the outcome Tuesday night.
"It really shows that the Huntsville community is committed to our schools and as we've been talking about for the last several months, these passes are critical to our daily operating expenditures," he said.
Funding for local schools comes from property taxes and the state matching those dollars.
PTA officials have been out in the community, sharing information with parents since the summertime on exactly what was on the line with the tax renewals. Many residents said they wanted to keep schools operating at high levels in order for their children to continue to have a quality education, throwing their support behind the ballot issue.
It doesn't apply in Limestone County because it is a Madison County school district tax, not a municipal tax. It is authorized by the Madison County Commission which has no authority over Limestone County. The same applies to the part of Huntsville in Limestone County.
Woody Sanderson, a local attorney with Lanier Ford who handled the ballot issue legalities for the three school systems broke it all down saying:
The taxes represent more $37 million dollars in local annual funds for Huntsville City Schools, more $6 million dollars for Madison City Schools, and more $14 million dollars for Madison County Schools.
"And as our economy continues to grow, that base will continue to grow because this is based on ad valorem taxes. As more families move into our community, as businesses expand, we know that number will continue to grow and that's what is so exciting and so powerful about the support the community brings to our schools," said Elizabeth Fleming, executive director of The Schools Foundation.
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