Muscle Shoals City Schools

September 1, 2021

It's not goodbye, but see you later.

Muscle Shoals City Schools wishes the following employees well as they move to #TheNextChapter of their lives and careers.

Mrs. Alicia Whitehead, 6th grade teacher at Muscle Shoals Middle School, has taken a job with AMSTI (Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative) as a middle school specialist. She begins her new job on October 1, 2021.

District Technology Coordinator Kevin Stephenson and McBride Secretary/Bookkeeper Sharon Franck will retire effective October 1, 2021.

Industry, schools likely reasons for Muscle Shoals' growth

From the TimesDaily on Aug. 22, 2021
By Russ Corey

MUSCLE SHOALS — A combination of growth in the industrial sector coupled with quality educational opportunities and good quality of life contributed to the city's phenomenal population growth over the past 10 years. According to the 2020 U.S. Census, Muscle Shoals experienced a growth rate of 23.8%, said Keith Jones, executive director of the Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments. Jones said the city had a population of 13,146, according to the 2010 Census. That number grew to 16,275 in the 2020 Census.

Mayor Mike Lockhart said the Census indicates the city is the 13th fastest growing in the state percentagewise. Lockhart said he moved to the Shoals in 1993 for a job at Helen Keller Hospital, but chose Muscle Shoals because of the reputation of the school system.

There was also a good quality of life, bolstered by the city's Park and Recreation Department, and retail opportunities.

"It's kind of a cycle," the mayor said. "You've got to have the school system, and that has consistently shown through enrollment going up."

The city has also seen increased industrial development, especially in the Shoals Research Airpark where its main tenant, North American Lighting, continues to expand. Kevin Jackson, the executive director of the Shoals Economic Development, said expanding industry is not solely responsible for the city's growth. He said roughly 60% of the people working in Muscle Shoals live in the city, but the other 40% live in surrounding cities.

"I live in Muscle Shoals and work in Florence," Jackson said.

Jackson attributed the steep growth in population to new jobs, but also to the city's education system, which is something people look at when choosing a place to live. "I think that will be more of a recipe for what's working over there," Jackson said. "Of course, in order for people to come here, we have to have jobs and good jobs. We're glad we can provide those."

Not being a Shoals native, Jackson said he sees the Shoals as one large community, akin to the five boroughs of New York City. "When we market the community, we market the Shoals," he said.

Jones said improved transportation infrastructure in Muscle Shoals makes it easier for someone to live in Muscle Shoals and work outside the city. But he also said a unified effort to encourage Shoals residents to fill out their Census forms also had an impact.

"You had a commitment by the school system to encourage parents to respond to the Census," Jones said.

Muscle Shoals Superintendent of Education Chad Holden said he's been working for the school system for 20 years. During that time, he's seen enrollment increase year after year.

"We typically see 40 to 50 new enrollments during the summer every year," Holden said. This year, however, they had in excess of 200 new enrollments.

"That's staggering," he said. "I personally called the mayor and gave him a heads up. We know schools are often the heartbeat of the community and a vital factor in bringing in residents and improving the quality of life."

More students mean more teachers, but it also creates a need for larger facilities. Holden said some of Muscle Shoals' schools are aging and running out of space.

"We've been sounding this alarm for some time," Holden said. He said failing to address those issues over the next 5 to 10 years is "not an option."

"Schools have to be on the top of the priority list," Holden said. "As families move to the area, they're bringing children with them."

Muscle Shoals City Council member Gina Clark spent 30 years in the real estate business.

"The main factor that people ask about is our school system if they have children, or are planning to have children, and that’s a big reason for the growth," Clark said. "Almost every new person who moves here asks about our schools, or they’ve heard about our schools and want to be here."

She said people want the small-town feel without the big city issues. "Our crime rate is low, our city does a great job in keeping our streets and public facilities in good shape which people really look at as well," Clark said. Clark expects the growth to continue over the next few years. "We have multiple new residential areas that will open up, new apartment buildings as well," she said. "So I’m hoping we see more retail and industry come our way, as well as the restaurant scene increase that people really want."

Lockhart said the city has enjoyed a consistent rate of growth every year. Muscle Shoals has also added some new apartment complexes, which he said fill up fairly quick.

The mayor said he thought Muscle Shoals could be drawing people from other Shoals cities, but Sheffield, Tuscumbia and Florence all showed increased population numbers, just not as large as Muscle Shoals.

Board of Education Meetings and Minutes Available on Website

Go to this link anytime to view past meetings of the Muscle Shoals Board of Education or to read the minutes of each meeting.

August Meeting of the Board of Education

**Due to technical difficulties, the sound quality is not as good on the video below as it normally is**

MSCS Board Meeting August 2021

Budget Highlights

MSCS Enrollment Total as of August 26: 2,853

Total Number of Staff: 320
Teachers with Advanced Degrees: 82%
Average Teacher Experience: 14.76 Years

Revenue by Source
State: $19.8 million (48%)
Federal: $6.8 million (17%)
Local: $12.6 million (31%)
Other: $1.6 million (4%)
Total: $41 million

Instructional Services: $21.4 million (55%)
Instructional Support: $7 million (18%)

Operations/Maintenance: $2.6 million (7%)

Transportation/CNP: $2.6 million (7%)

Admin Services: $1.6 million (4%)

Capital Outlay: $1.5 million (4%)
Debt Service: $993,337 (3%)

Other Expenditures: $1.1 million (2%)
Total: $39 million

Per Pupil Expenditures
FY20 $10,935

Budgeted FY21 $12,216
*This will be updated for Budget Hearing #2 on Sept. 13*

Classroom Instructional Supports
Instructional Resources, $700 per teacher
Technology, $500 per teacher
Library Enhancement, $157.72 per teacher
Professional Development, $100 per teacher
Textbooks, $75 per student

Estimated general fund balance: $4.9 million
Estimated "one month" operating expenses: $2.2 million
Projected Reserve Fund Balance: 2.16 months (required by law to have 1 month)

Financial Accountability

  • Financial audits conducted by independent CPA firm.
  • Monthly financial statements and expenditures are presented and approved by the BOE.
  • Financial statements and check registers are accessible via the district website
  • Annual accountability reports are available to the public in December.

Comments or Questions regarding MSCS Budget

Complete the "response to review" form for public feedback or questions. Submit to CSFO Sherry Langley at or call 256-389-2600 Ext. 1020. Your questions or comments will be answered or reviewed at the 2nd Budget Hearing on Sept. 13.

Superintendent's Report 8.31.2021

Since the remarks are difficult to hear in the video, here are the comments made by the superintendent at the end of the Board meeting.

  • Our focus this morning was on Tropical Storm Ida which will bring severe weather to our area starting around 8:00 tonight and continuing until around noon tomorrow. All MSCS schools will transition to remote learning tomorrow, August 31, 2021 with extracurricular activities resuming tomorrow afternoon and evening if weather conditions improve.

  • School has gotten off to a good start despite some of the challenges we’ve faced this year with Coronavirus Part 2. Our teachers, students, and all staff have definitely stepped up and helped us start the school year strong.

  • I would also like to give a shout out to our administrative team and district nursing staff for rolling up their sleeves and navigating another difficult start to the school year, in some ways even more difficult than last year.

  • On August 10, the Board approved my recommendation to institute a universal masking policy for all students, staff, and visitors when indoors and within 6 feet of another person. Our schools have operated smoothly with that expectation so far, and we continue to monitor our local school cases of COVID and the community spread of the virus. Our numbers continue to be similar to what we saw during flu season last year, but the cases have been manageable. We will keep an eye on this, as we’ve done since it all started in March 2020.

  • Our district CNP staff also deserve our gratitude as they have been having to work on Saturdays to receive their supply shipments. CNP Director Blake Stone had already made me aware of this, but we received a memo from the state superintendent confirming that the trucking companies were experiencing a shortage of drivers, which disrupted the transportation chain of getting food to schools. But, our CNP staff was determined that our students would have food to eat, so they are working on their off days to make that happen.

  • Fall sports are now underway with football, volleyball, and cross country. Our marching band, cheerleaders, and dance teams are all working hard and representing the MSCS family for the fall season.

  • Columbia High School has reported significant cases of COVID which has led them to transition to remote learning and they are forfeiting their games the next two weeks. That will impact our homecoming scheduled for next week. Homecoming has now been moved to Thursday, October 28 vs. Sparkman.

  • A quick “FYI,” booster doses of the Covid-19 vaccine will be offered this fall, beginning the week of September 20. The shots will be available starting eight months after an individual's second dose. On that note, the district hosted its third vaccine clinic for students, staff, and the community on August 23. Helen Keller Hospital will return on September 13 to administer the 2nd dose of the Pfizer vaccine. We appreciate the work of HKH President Kyle Buchanan, local physicians, and the hospital for helping educate the public on the pandemic and the vaccine.

  • Congratulations to Dr. Richard Templeton, Supervisor of Student Services, on being selected to serve as the Director of 504 Coordinators for the CLAS organization.

  • Lastly, I would like to publicly thank CSFO Langley on her work putting the budget together and presenting the information to us tonight. It’s a busy time of year for the finance office as they work to close out one fiscal year and begin another. Putting the budget together is no easy task, and I appreciate her work on that.

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