GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Marshall County Commission chairman is questioning if five separate school systems in the county are too many. He tells WAFF 48 News the current setup is a “burden” to taxpayers.
This discussion comes as the Marshall County school system scrapes up money to build a new school flattened by weekend storms.
“I think the main issue we have in Marshall County right here, and it’s a very sensitive issue,” said Chairman James Hutcheson, “we have five school systems. I think most of the taxpayers feel like, ‘Hey! We’re paying enough taxes.’ With five school systems the overhead cost is so much that it’s really putting a burden on taxpayers.”
There are five school systems in Marshall County: Guntersville City Schools, Albertville City Schools, Arab City Schools, Boaz City Schools and the County school system.
Right now, the county school system gets funding through three sources: local ,state and federal funds.
Local funds come from $0.01 sales tax revenue, which amounts to roughly $1 million annually. Hutcheson estimates the County system budget is around $60 million.
“It’s just a matter of funding, and they have the least funding of any school system in the County. It’s really a shame," said Hutcheson.
Within the county, Albertville City Schools and the county school system have a comparable amount of students. Yet, the county school system spends $3500 more per student. This according to school leaders from both systems.
The per pupil expenditure for the Marshall County Schools is $9,760. They have 5,662 students enrolled.
The per pupil expenditure for Albertville City Schools is $6,283.68. They have 5,664 students enrolled.
The reason for the difference, according to Marshall County Schools Superintendent Dr. Cindy Wigley, is that the county system gets less sales tax revenue, spends more busing students farther and has more than twice the amount of schools.
Additionally, all schools in the system are Title I with more than 75 % poverty across the board. The poverty percentage for two feeder patterns is close to 90 percent.
Hutcheson says a tax increase is likely off the table. The commission does not have the authority to impose significant increases and Hutcheson believes taxpayers aren’t interested in one.
Last summer, the commission imposed a license plate fee increase. This move will place a school resource officer in each of the 14 county schools.
Wigley and county school leadership are still working on a plan for a new school. At last check, they’re still tallying up how much that will cost.