$90M Sun Prairie referendum would add 2 new elementary schools

District put forth referendum in response to overcrowding issues
$90M Sun Prairie referendum would add 2 new elementary schools

On Nov. 8, voters in the Sun Prairie Area School District will vote whether to approve a two-part referendum designed primarily to fund the construction and staffing of two new elementary schools.

The referendum would cost taxpayers around $90 million. The new schools would be located on the city’s west side.

Sun Prairie Area School District Superintendent Brad Saron said the referendum was spurred by overcrowding at the elementary level caused by the area’s fast population growth. He said the district is the fastest-growing in Wisconsin.

“Six of our seven elementaries are already over-capacity,” Saron said. “We’ve actually moved fifth-grade classrooms up to lower middle schools in order to compensate for some of the growth.”

The referendum is split up into two questions: $89.5 million to build the two new schools, maintain buildings districtwide and personalized learning updates and $2.8 million per year in staffing and operational costs for the two new schools.

Susan Burgard, the president of Westside Elementary School’s Organization of Parents, Teachers and Students, said as a mother of two elementary-age students, she feels the referendum is much-needed.

“I really feel like we need it. The schools have been overcrowded ever since my kids have been here,” Burgard said. “There’s been students that were shuttled here that are no longer at the school, so they develop friendships with kids and then the next year when there’s space at their school, they’re not here anymore.”

Saron said his pitch to voters is that as Sun Prairie continues to grow, the referendum allows it to maintain its reputation as a community with good schools.

“The legacy of the residents of the Sun Prairie Area School District is just excellent schools,” Saron said. “This really matches the community’s expectations for the next five to 10 years in treating our kids to the same excellent degree that kids in the past have been treated.”

According to the district, the referendum would cause property taxes to rise $106 per year per every $100,000 worth of property owned.

Saron said building a second high school is likely next on the agenda. He said the district plans to convene a high school task force in the summer of 2017.

For more information on the referendum, visit the district’s website.