HomeNewsKing speaks on JMCSS’ successes, challenges

King speaks on JMCSS’ successes, challenges

Jackson-Madison County Schools Superintendent Marlon King began his speech at the Jackson Rotary Club meeting on Wednesday, April 24, in an unusual way, but letting the crowd know what he was not going to talk about.

That was a list of 13 things he said he thought they might be expecting him to talk about, including students from Rose Hill competing in an electric car national championship race at Talladega, the renovation of Malesus School with investment from Toyota into a hub for STEM and robotics education, the workforce development center that’s been approved, the launch of multiple robotics programs throughout the district in the last couple years, the inaugural JMAC Awards last week, the success of Leap Up for Literacy program that encouraged reading among students, 88 students who’ve scored a 30 or higher on the ACT since 2021, the development of the Hub City Central Complex, the construction of the new Pope School, elementary basketball programs starting up, the success of the JMCSS Gala, two state championship winning teams meeting Gov. Bill Lee and the recent awarding of the Star teacher grant that comes from the Madison County Commission for teachers.

“But I’m not going to talk about all that,” King said before most of the crowd chuckled audibly.

What King did talk about was the finances of the district as well as its successes and challenges.

As far as the finances, the district has come in under budget by $4.6 million each of the last two years. He expects the fund balance, which was a little more than $26 million last year at the close of the fiscal year is expected to grow even more this year.

“I don’t want to use our fund balance to help with the budget because that’s for a rainy day,” King said. “So if we get to a rainy day, I want us to be able to fund as much as we can without asking the County Commission or the taxpayers to feel the brunt of the need to fund whatever might need funding.”

He added that the new TISA funding formula that was established last year and growth in student population means more money should be coming to JMCSS in the coming years.

When discussing successes, King mentioned how the district is retaining teachers with higher wages, but in addition to that, the wellness program called We CARE.

“We’re retaining teachers, but because they’re taking care of themselves better, our teacher absenteeism is dropping,” King said. “So if the teachers are feeling better and are in the room with the students teaching, that means that their scores are going up too.”

King also mentioned the challenges the district is facing.

Chronic absenteeism is one of them. King mentioned one student he heard about at a school who had missed 40 consecutive days.

King said for students like that one, he hopes that the district doesn’t give up on the student and gets him or her into a program like Parkview Prep that helps students that have fallen behind catch up.

He mentioned how there are nearly 300 students in the district who are homeless.

“A lot of those are staying in hotels or wherever they can find,” King said. “And we do what we can for them.

“A lot of them, when we ask them what they need, we’ll send food home with them but they’ll also ask for towels because extra towels are a fee at the hotels, and they don’t have the money for those fees. So we help them out that way.”

King said he appreciates the passion the community of Jackson and Madison County has for its public school system, and that’s why he continues to do everything he can to improve the district every day.

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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