Muscle Shoals City Schools

June 30, 2021

Muscle Shoals City Schools Earns Cognia System Accreditation

(Muscle Shoals, AL – 6/30/2021) – Superintendent Dr. Chad Holden announced today that Muscle Shoals City Schools has earned system accreditation by Cognia™, a nonprofit organization that provides quality assurance for schools, school districts, and education service providers.

“System accreditation by the Cognia Global Accreditation Commission provides Muscle Shoals City Schools a nationally recognized mark of quality for our school system and each school within our system,” shared Dr. Holden. “It demonstrates to our community our commitment to excellence, our openness to external review and feedback, and our desire to be the best we can be on behalf of the students we serve.”

Dr. Mark A. Elgart, president and CEO of Cognia, stated, “Cognia System Accreditation is a rigorous process that focuses the entire school system and its community on the primary goal of preparing lifelong learners in engaging environments where all students can flourish. Muscle Shoals City Schools is to be commended for demonstrating that it has met high standards, and is making progress on key indicators that impact student learning.”

About Cognia

Cognia offers accreditation and certification, assessment, professional learning, and improvement services to institutions and other education providers. The result of the merger of AdvancED and Measured Progress, Cognia was formed to bridge the gap between school evaluation and student assessment. As a global nonprofit working in over 80 countries, our 36,000 institutions serve and support nearly 25 million students and five million educators every day. Cognia serves as a trusted partner in advancing learning for all learners. Find out more at

Special Thanks

We offer a special thanks to all of the parents, students, and community partners who participated in the interview process of our Cognia accreditation external review. We know it required you to give of your time and effort, and we sincerely thank you for the feedback that will help our district improve.

Consider a "Helping Schools" tag when you renew!

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 work session and meeting.

Board of Education approves 2% pay raise for employees and adjustment to the teacher salary matrix

On Monday, the Board of Education approved a 2% across-the-board pay raise for all MSCS employees and adjusted the teacher salary matrix in order to make step raises at the higher end of the matrix to be more comparable to step raises at the lower end.

Both decisions were prompted by actions of the Alabama Legislature signed into law by the governor earlier this year.

During the work session, Superintendent Chad Holden explained that the pay raise and the matrix adjustment were two different actions by the Legislature and had created some confusion about how much of a pay raise everyone would receive.

"One bill gave everyone a 2% pay raise. The Education Budget bill also adjusted the minimum state salary matrix, which we already pay above, from steps 9 and up. We adjusted our matrix accordingly," Holden explained.

The superintendent added, "Before the Board's action tonight, we were paying our teachers 6% above the state matrix, and we will continue to pay them 6% above the state matrix. It's the right thing to do for our folks and keep our salary schedule competitive with other systems."

CSFO Sherry Langley told the Board that she and the superintendent had looked at the pay raise from several angles and had calculated the cost to ensure the district could afford the raises.

"We ran the numbers on a 2% raise, 4% raise, and the embedded raises like what you see in the state's education budget. We ultimately decided to recommend keeping our teachers 6% above the state matrix," Langley said.

The salary increases will go into effect at the start of the new contract year.

June Meeting of the Board of Education

MSCS Board Meeting - June 28th

Allman begins her term on the Board of Education

Sonya Allman officially took her seat on the Board of Education Monday night. She replaces 15-year veteran board member Farrell Southern.

Allman retired as a school counselor in the Muscle Shoals City Schools in 2014, but she continued to work as a part-time consultant in the high school counseling office until 2018. Prior to working as a school counselor, she taught 4th, 5th, and 6th grades at Highland Park Elementary and what was, at the time, Avalon Middle School.

She and her husband, Rodney, have two adult children. Ashley, an attorney, lives in Atlanta with her husband, Cameron, and son, Oliver. Amber, a teacher, lives in Auburn with her husband, Josh.

Ritter named principal of MSMS

Students and staff at Muscle Shoals Middle School will be greeted by a new but familiar face as principal when they return this fall. The Board of Education met on June 9, and approved Superintendent Chad Holden's recommendation to promote Assistant Principal Dianna Ritter to the post effective July 1.

"Mrs. Ritter has been in our district a long time, and we know her well. She's been a teacher, an instructional partner, and an assistant principal, so she's worked her way through the ranks," Holden said.

Holden said that he met with the faculty senate for feedback during the hiring process.

"She definitely has a lot of support among the MSMS faculty. Especially this year, employees felt like she earned her stripes and deserved a shot at leading the school," the superintendent said.

Holden stated that the faculty also mentioned wanting consistency and continunity with the new hire.

Davis, Green promoted to assistant principal

The high school and middle school have gained new assistant principals as school prepares to open in the fall. Dusty Davis replaces Jeff Madden, who became principal of Muscle Shoals Career Academy in January. Bryon Green replaces Dianna Ritter, who takes over as principal of Muscle Shoals Middle School on July 1.

Davis most recently worked as a history and health teacher at Muscle Shoals High School and coached various varsity sports including football and track & field. Green worked at McBride Elementary teaching 4th grade science and coached varsity softball.

Welcome new CNP employees!

We are happy to welcome four new employees to our Child Nutrition Program staff at Muscle Shoals Middle School/McBride Elementary School:

Kadi Smith

Jennifer Quintana
Brittany King
Whitney Gilley

What parents need to know about Alabama’s third grade reading retention law

The Alabama Literacy Act, first passed in 2019, will go fully into effect at the start of the new school year.

This article addresses frequently asked questions about the Literacy Act:

1) How will I know if my child is struggling to read on grade level?

2) Why is the retention provision set for third grade? What’s so special about third grade?

3) Does my third-grader’s promotion to fourth grade depend on whether he passes the annual statewide spring test?

4) Given the tough year kids have had because of the pandemic, why are officials still planning to hold kids back next year?

5) What happens if my child is held back in the third grade? How will another year in third grade help her?

6) Where can I read more about how I can help my child learn to read?

MSCS Retirees 2021

The Muscle Shoals City Schools and community congratulates the following employees on their retirement in 2020-2021. We wish each one well as they embark on #TheNextChapter of their lives.

Lori Malone, Teacher, HGP
Deborah Ryan, CNP, HGP
Robbie Thomas, CNP, HPE
Anna Uhlman, Teacher, HPE
Terri Goins, Teacher, MES

Fannie Garner, CNP, MSMS
Scott Goodwin, Principal, MSMS
Sandra Green, CNP, MSMS
Caryn Hairell, Principal, MSCA
Melissa Bailey, Foreign Language, MSHS
Brian Kilpatrick, Social Science, MSHS
Kathy Wagnon, Secretary, MSHS

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