The following news was met with applause by those remaining in attendance at the Oct. 13 Madison County school board meeting: Madison County High School has set its best-ever mark for graduation rate at 70.3 percent, according to numbers officially released.
“The highest we’ve ever had,” superintendent Mitch McGhee said.
Schools started officially keeping track of graduation rates in 2000. Madison County bottomed out at 49 percent one year, but now has the rate going in the direction it wants.
“We’re not satisfied, of course, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction,” McGhee said. “That 70 percent mark was a big milestone we wanted to try to get past.”
The 70.3 mark is above the national average but still below the state average of 78.
“That’s our next goal,” McGhee said. “We’ve made it to the national average and now we’re after the state average.”
Absentee ‘spike’ levels off
For the most part, the high absentee rate in Madison County Schools last month due to numerous illnesses has subsided.
“We had that early spike, and then we leveled off,” McGhee said. “And for the last week, 10 days, attendance hasn’t been an issue.”
McGhee, however, did note that Colbert has seen a recent rash of the flu.
“So we’re watching that,” he said.
As for enrollment, Madison County School System has 4,821 students at the 40-day count. That’s below the system’s projection of 4,904.
Hull-Sanford and Ila elementaries are the only campuses above projections currently.
“Except for the high school, most of the other schools will steadily increase during the year,” McGhee said.
The BOE also approved a new class-size waiver policy to allow it to exceed the state mandated student-per-teacher limit. The state has relaxed those restrictions and allowed more waivers since it’s had to cut funding to local systems. That saves systems, like Madison County, the expense of having to hire additional teachers when budgets are lean.
But since the state’s being inundated with waiver requests, it’s now requiring local systems to ask for all waivers now, so it won’t have to go through the process multiple times.