School district asks for input on potential multimillion dollar upgrades to Madison high schools

Madison schools are looking at a $315 million price tag to upgrade its schools, which could come as a referendum in November 2020.

A chunk of that, about $20 to $35 million, could go to a new elementary school, but by far the majority of the money goes toward improving the area’s high schools.

Chad Wiese said East, West, Memorial and La Follette high schools haven’t had improvements in decades. The school he used to be a principal for, La Follette, hasn’t had significant upgrades in 50 years.

“There hasn’t been a major reinvestment in La Follette High School since 1969, so it has been some time,” Wiese said. “The facility is certainly showing its age.”

Lots of changes ⁦@MMSDschools⁩ wants to make to La Follette HS. Upgraded science&tech labs, classrooms and gym AND adding air conditioning. The school hasn’t had upgrades since 1969, and they’re asking for $70mil(as are the other high schools) to make this happen. #News3Now

— Amy Reid (@amyreidreports) October 22, 2019

The school district has come up with some idea of what it wants for the school, which it went over at a meeting Tuesday: a new gym where the fieldhouse is, a science and technology lab where the current gym is and air conditioning for the whole building.

The district will address its ideas for the other three schools at later meetings at the respective high schools. The district will meet at East High School plans Oct. 23, West High School Nov. 6 and Memorial High School Nov. 7. All meetings are scheduled to start at 6 p.m.

Linda Ketcham was at Tuesday’s meeting, and she said she is happy to see improvements for science labs and air conditioning. She said the cost – $70 million for each high school – is perfectly acceptable. She said she’d even pay more.

“If we really want a labor force in 10, 20, 30 years that can support our senior citizens that can support our economy, we have to invest in kids, we have to invest in schools, we have to invest in teachers,” Ketcham said.

This referendum is not certain yet. The school board will have to vote sometime in the future to decide if they want to ask taxpayers for this money.

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