MMSD looks to add new schools to accommodate future growth

MMSD looks to add new schools to...

MADISON, Wis. - New schools, changing district boundaries and renovations are all apart of Madison Metropolitan School District's long-term plan as they look towards the next 20 years.


"I hope they (the community) are willing to think bigger with us. We want to do better than just okay," said MMSD superintendent Jennifer Cheatham.


Thinking bigger, includes potentially buying an 8-acre property located near Valley View and east of South Point Road. The property would be the site of a new elementary school in seven to 10 years  to help with an additional 1,100 student the district expects to see  by 2037.


The board voted to submit an offer of $2,050,000 to purchase the site for future use. This is just the beginning stages, the sale of the property would not close until Dec. 31, 2018, and would require a final board approval.


The west side is projected to see the most growth. Cheatham says the district is looking to catch up on facilities improvement that have been overdue and at the same time add new schools to keep up with the growth of the district.


"We have not done a great job of thinking ahead in the past...we are playing some catch up and thinking ahead," Cheatham explained "We have some inequities built into our facilities and our boundaries that privilege some students over others. We are excited about challenging some of the the current state," she said.


One of those locations is the allied drive neighborhood, where the district is proposing a magnet school. Currently, 229 elementary students are bused to schools in Verona and Madison who live in the neighborhood. The Boys and Girls Club is also  located in the neighborhood. Kids that attend the club are bused from 16 different locations, according to CEO Michael Johnson.


"I do believe with the number of kids that are in that community, with the population, demographics, when you look at low-income kids. They deserve to have the best schools, teachers, resources. I applaud the school district for looking at this opportunity," Johnson said.


Other ideas include moving Nuestro Mundo elementary to Frank Allis elementary, building a new school on the east side,  and improve facilities at the four high schools which are all over 50 years old.


"We think that a couple of well-placed schools along with the other things that schools make possible would help across the district, to give each neighborhood an elementary or middle school that is a neighborhood school, it means we would have a future mapped out for our four big high schools," said Mike Barry, MMSD assistant superintendent for business services.


MMSD proposed building a new school east of Interstate 39/90 on Sprecher Road, where they expect an additional 200 students in the coming years. Most Allis Main and Allis East students are closer to Elvehjem, and could attend a

new south school, or Elvehjem, Schenk and Glendale, according to the district.


All four high schools and alternative programs need facility work, according to Barry. East and West High schools are both more than 85 years old. Memorial and La Follette are over 50, built in the 1960's. Barry also added, the district has only built two schools in 27 years, Cesar Chavez and Olson Elementary.


"It means we would have a future mapped out for our four big high schools. It means our alternative schools, which are spread across the district at various different locations could actually have a comprehensive plan," Barry said.


Barry said the district plans to work with surrounding suburban areas where growth is projected including; Oregon, Verona, Middleton, and McFarland school districts. According to Barry, plans may require the district to change their boundaries.


"If both districts mutually agreed, then you could literally move the boundary line between districts. It might help serve some neighborhoods. In some cases, that might mean moving boundaries into MMSD, in some cases it's moving boundaries out of MMSD," he said.


All ideas are preliminary, according to the district. Barry said the district plans to ask the community for their input in January 2018.

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