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Area Realtors Hear School Talk From Superintendent Parker / Other Local Superintendents

Madison City Schools Superintendent Robby Parker joined his counterparts from Huntsville and Madison County in a talk to area realtors about highlights and challenges in their school districts

The superintendents were the keynote speakers at the Huntsville Area Association of Realtors membership luncheon. Schools are the primary driver of growth in almost any area so it was an attentive audience.

Mr. Parker reported that Madison City has climbed to being the 11th largest school system in Alabama, with 10,300 students currently enrolled and potentially a couple hundred more added in the coming weeks. Madison County, with 19,000 students and Huntsville with approximately 24,000 students, are in the top 10 of 137 public school districts in size.

Superintendent Robby Parker at Podium next to American flag

Mr. Parker said Madison City ranks within the top 3 - 5 systems in Alabama in almost every measure of academic quality. That's remarkable, given that it is 5th worse in average class size, meaning 132 systems have fewer students per class. Those challenges will continue to stress the system if growth continues at its current pace of about 250-300 students per year, he said. Current funding just cannot keep up with the growth.

Mr. Parker said he inherited a quality school district from former superintendents Dr. Dee Fowler and Henry Clark. He wants to continue that excellence while focusing on three immediate goals:

 Stronger math programs for kids, particularly at the K-6 level, who excel in math using creative ways to learn beyond their grade level. This is especially important in the Huntsville area with parents who are among the brightest in math and science-related fields.

Gradually build up foreign language offerings across every grade level with a goal of having every graduate from Bob Jones and James Clemens high schools fluent in a second language. This would be in keeping with the school system’s motto of “Empowering Students for Global Success.”

* Focus more attention on programs for Madison City students who typically don’t pursue post-secondary education after high school. “We are a college prep school system with 85 percent of our kids going on to college. That means 15 percent choose something else. We need to do a better job preparing those kids for not only those blue collar jobs but what I call new collar jobs.”

All of the superintendents were asked to highlight one aspect about their school district they believe most people don't know. Mr. Parker pointed out that about 25 percent of Madison City students are in poverty, yet the district works hard at limiting the achievement gap. "There is a gap but our poverty kids outscore much of the rest of the state. We want to focus however not only closing the gap but bringing everybody up."

Crowd shot sitting at tables inside a reception hall

Robby Parker, Matt Aiken and Matt Massey standing outside the reception hall in a posed photo.
Madison City Schools Superintendent Robby Parker, Huntsville Schools Superintendent Dr. Matt Akin and Madison County Superintendent Matt Massey outside a Realtors luncheon at Burritt On The Mountain in Huntsville.

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