Muscle Shoals is located on the Tennessee River, which winds its way through the heart of the Shoals. The four cities (Muscle Shoals, Florence, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia) and two counties (Colbert and Lauderdale), commonly referred to as the Shoals, are served by six school districts. Citizens of the Shoals place a high priority on education, and the data tell the story. Shoals area students perform among the highest in the state and in the Southeast on state and national assessments.
The population of our four major cities is more than 71,000 and our metropolitan (Colbert and Lauderdale Counties) statistical area includes over 147,000 people. According to the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, we serve a regional trade area of 410,000 people. We are in the geographic center of over three million people, and are within a day's drive of over 55% of U.S. markets.
According to the United States Census Bureau 2013, Muscle Shoals City has an estimated population of 13,506. The ethnic breakdown is 79.5% white, 15.3% black, 0.3% American Indian and Alaska Native, 0.9% Asian, 1.6% two or more races, and 2.7% Hispanic or Latino. Ninety percent have at least a high school diploma. 24.9% have a bachelor's degree or higher. The median household income is $51,444 and 11.2% are below the poverty level. Muscle Shoals City is governed by a mayor and city council.
The city of Muscle Shoals is approximately 20 miles south of Tennessee and approximately 30 miles east of Mississippi. The city covers twelve square miles and still has cotton fields within the city limits. Muscle Shoals is a city known for its southern hospitality that not only has an exciting history, but a promising future.
The Shoals area has long been known for its musical heritage. A documentary entitled "Muscle Shoals" was released in 2013. The movie chronicled the story of our city as the "unlikely breeding ground" of America's most creative music. Our city is proud to be the home of the historical FAME Recording Studio, which was founded by the legendary Rick Hall. Mr. Hall overcame poverty and personal tragedy to become one of the music industry's most respected producers. He partnered with musicians to create respected musical ensembles such as the "Muscle Shoals Sound" and "The Swampers." As a result, artists including Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Percy Sledge, Gregg Allman, Clarence Carter, Etta James, and Alicia Keys have recorded in our city. Mr. Hall's legacy continues to influence our city's future. Until his death in January of 2018, he made his home in Muscle Shoals and supported our school district by providing educational opportunities for our students interested in music careers (iMDb web site). FAME continues to be an important partner for our school district.
Muscle Shoals City, with its low crime rate, sense of family, and hospitable nature, is a great place to live and raise a family. The city provides its residents with excellent fire and police protection. Muscle Shoals is a city that takes pride in its school system, holds high expectations for student success, and provides community support for education. The city of Muscle Shoals is a relatively small town but has much to offer its citizens. Fishermen from all over the country come to the area to participate in three major fishing tournaments held on the Tennessee River, some of which are sponsored by the Bassmaster organization. Families have fun and relax on the Tennessee River and Wilson Lake. Visitors to our area enjoy a range of water sports including swimming, boat riding, wave running, water skiing and tubing. Citizens enjoy Cypress Lakes Golf and Tennis Facilities throughout the year. The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail offers two courses that are home to championship golf tournaments. The Muscle Shoals Parks and Recreation Department offers a variety of experiences for all ages. The youth of our city utilize fourteen baseball and softball fields, a splash pad, tennis courts, and two competition gymnasiums for a variety of organized recreational sports. Our senior citizens enjoy activities offered at the city's Senior Citizen Center. Local businesses also coordinate local, state, and national outings for the senior citizens of our city. The Muscle Shoals Public Library is frequented by many students and adults throughout the year. Our citizens also develop their artistic abilities in several community theater organizations, dance companies, and visual arts studios.
There are two county and four city school districts within the Shoals, offering complete academic as well as career and technical education from preschool to twelfth grade. After high school, many students choose to remain in the Shoals. The University of North Alabama and Northwest-Shoals Community College offer a variety of academic choices including specialized training and retraining for the adult student considering a career change. The Muscle Shoals City School District is pleased to offer early scholar and dual enrollment opportunities through partnerships with both institutions.
Muscle Shoals School District is governed by a five-member Board of Education. The board members are appointed by the Muscle Shoals City Council for staggered five-year terms. This group is responsible for formulating policies that govern the system. The Board appoints the superintendent, who is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the district.
The Muscle Shoals City School District is comprised of seven schools with an enrollment of 2780. Howell Graves Preschool is home to the district's preschool and kindergarten programs with an enrollment of 262. The preschool, comprised of students with special needs and typical peers, is recognized as a model program in the state of Alabama and frequented by visitors who are establishing similar programs. Students in grades one and two are served by Highland Park Elementary and Webster Elementary, with enrollments of 191 and 199 respectively. McBride Elementary houses 610 students in grades three, four, and five. Students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades attend Muscle Shoals Middle School, where the total enrollment is 674. Muscle Shoals High School, comprised of grades nine through twelve, serves 840 students. The Muscle Shoals Career Academy delivers career and technical instruction to the district's high school students. District leadership and the board of education are housed in the historic Howell and Graves building.
Muscle Shoals City Schools employees a total of 306.5 administrators, teachers, counselors, child nutrition program staff, media specialists, and support staff. Fifteen administrators, 186.5 teachers, 7.5 school guidance counselors, 28 child nutrition, 4.5 media specialists and 64.5 support staff serve the district. The district schools are comprised of 75.9% white, 17.9% black, 3% Asian, 2.9% American Indian/Alaskan Native, and 0.2% Pacific Islander. The district serves free and reduced lunches to 33% of the school population.
The citizens of Muscle Shoals are proud of the growth of the Muscle Shoals City School District and its outstanding accomplishments, which have resulted in state and national recognition for the system. Muscle Shoals continues to rank among the top ten districts in the state and continues to score above the national average on testing. The district's long-standing commitment to academic excellence has been maintained through a high graduation rate, millions of dollars in scholarship offers for our students, and the highest rank in the state for the earning of employability certifications.
Though the loss of funding to public schools in Alabama has impacted both programs and personnel across the state, great efforts are being made to maintain these areas in Muscle Shoals City. Even with the cuts in funding, Muscle Shoals City Schools has maintained its high expectations of students and staff. Students have remained within the top 10 of the state in state assessments. An additional strength of the system is the activities of extracurricular teams and groups. The fine arts programs routinely receive superior rating not only at state competitions, but also regional and even national competitions. Our athletic teams have won state recognition, and our graduation rate continues to be among the top in the state.
In 2004, the Muscle Shoals Education Foundation was formed when community leaders and educators saw a need to enhance and support an already excellent school district. The mission of the Muscle Shoals Education Foundation is to stimulate educational awareness in the Shoals community and to obtain financial support for programs and activities in Muscle Shoals City Schools. The foundation is a self-supported 501(C)3 organization with funding obtained through grants, fundraisers, payroll deduction, and gift contributions, as well as individual and business donations. It is governed by board members and an executive director.