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MMSD discusses possible new south side school, hears taxpayer concerns at community meeting

MMSD offers information on referendums
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MMSD offers information on referendums

MADISON, Wis. - Madison Metropolitan School District officials gave southeast side residents a chance to ask questions and learn more about its two proposed referendums.

The meeting at Lake Edge Lutheran Church off of Monona Drive was the latest in a number of informational sessions the district has offered. 

Beyond major renovations to the four main high schools, a new elementary school could be coming to the south side.

According to Chad Wiese, the executive director for building and administrative services, there has never been an elementary school south of the Beltline.

A facilities referendum could change that, allocating $25 to $30 million for a new elementary school in the Rimrock neighborhood. Wiese said currently, about 450 students are bused out of that neighborhood to either Frank Allis Elementary or Nuestro Mundo Community School, which is located in a space the district is currently leasing.

A new school could either be home to Nuestro Mundo, or staff and students could move from Frank Allis to the new school, and Nuestro Mundo could move to Frank Allis.

The group the East Side Progressives facilitated Sunday night’s meeting, hoping the community will walk way better informed.

“We want to educate,” member Barb Clark said. “We want people to understand and make an informed decision.”

Clark, a former Madison teacher herself, hopes the district will balance its needs with the needs of senior citizens in the community on fixed incomes who are worried about making ends meet.

“I think it's really important that we understand that the kids here in our community are our future, but we also have to think about the senior citizens,” Clark said. "Rents are high in the community, so if people have to leave their homes, can they even afford a decent apartment, for example?"

The referendum would also allocate $70 million to each of the four major high schools, which include upgrades including new science labs and renovated classroom spaces.

The facilities referendum would add $69 per $100,000 to a Madison resident’s annual tax bill.

The district is also considering an operating referendum, which would allow it to exceed the state-imposed levy limit by $8 million in the 2020-21 school year, an additional $8 million the 2021-22 school year, an additional $10 million in the 2022-23 school year and an additional $10 million the 2023-24 school year.

District officials said this comes after losing 15% in state aid from last year and projecting a $30 million budget gap over the next three years.

According to the district, the operating referendum would help maintain staff and student programming.

The district will continue holding community meetings and collecting feedback, then early next year, the board will take that into account as they decide what to put on the ballot for next November.
 

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