With school starting back across the Tennessee Valley, safety is a main concern for many parents. That includes parents in Madison, which is why officials with Madison City Schools say they’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure their students always feel safe. WAAY 31 spoke with those school officials and learned how bringing those extra safety measures to schools could have a negative impact on teachers.
"We've had so many school shootings, I mean I'm scared. I don't want that to happen at one of my kids' schools or anybody's school," said mother of three, Jaclyn Skuce. With school starting back soon, Skuce says her children's safety is a number one concern--which is something echoed by Madison City Schools Superintendent Robby Parker. "It's non-negotiable," he said. "We are going to keep our students safe."
But there's a catch. You may remember Madison City Schools set up a group funding page to raise about $755,000 dollars. Officials say that's the cost to put a school resource officer and a mental health counselor in each school. However, school starts Tuesday and only about $23,000 has been raised. Parker said that could mean bad news for teachers.
"If we don't raise the money, we're still going to fund it. It just means it's coming out of another pot, and that pot is the only pot we have and that is the pot that we hire teachers in," Parker said. "It will mean that class sizes will continue to get larger." And parents aren't thrilled to hear that. "It's going to affect our children's learning. The teacher's not going to be as focused on each child as much as she could be," Skuce said. "Class size has a direct impact on the quality of education," father of two, Jacob Putman added.
Parker assures WAAY 31 that dipping into the teachers pot won't lead to lay-offs, but it does mean that no additional teachers will be hired. "That's ten to twelve teaching units that we could be adding if we didn't do that," Parker said. And that's something many parents are saying makes them want to donate and help the district reach their $755,000 goal. "It would be much better if they had that funding, and they were able to increase the staffing and not have to increase class size," Putman said.
The district has already hired a mental health counselor for each school, but they are still working to hire six more school resource officers so that there can be one at every school at all times.