FPC co-chair provides update to Board

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Facilities Planning Committee co-chair Bob Hesselbein provided an update on their meeting in November and shared some ideas the FPC requested guidance on from the Board of Education at its regular meeting on Monday, Dec. 11.

"The FPC is a very enthusiastic group and is committed to the work it is doing,'' he said.

Co-chair Luke Francois, who is also the superintendent of the Mineral Point School District, wasn't able to attend Monday's meeting as he was at a school boad meeting in Mineral Point.

Hesselbein shared that the FPC learned at its last meeting that Options 4-5 -- which included building a new middle school with capacity for 550 students on the Pope Farm site and adding a second building to increase high school capacity by 700 students or so adjacent to Parmenter Street -- had been removed by the Board. Assistant Superintendent Sherri Cyra also updated the FPC at that meeting on the updated enrollment projections from UW-Madison's Applied Population Lab.

Hesselbein noted the FPC was intrigued that the average price per student was cheaper with a new elementary school at Pope Farm as opposed to renovating and adding on to Park and West Middleton.

He said the FPC wanted to know if the Board would allow it to consider an elementary school with capacity for more than 525 students, a middle school with capacity for more than 1,200 students, a new 900-student middle school, temporarily moving fifth-graders into a new elementary school while a middle school is being built or permanent grade re-configurations.

The Board had a lengthy discussion and asked a few clarifying questions. Hesselbein noted that the FPC feels much better about the new enrollment projections even though it has slowed down their work. He also believes the FPC is still on track to take options and scenarios to the community as part of workshops that are tentatively scheduled for early February.

Superintendent George Mavroulis said administration feels strongly about keeping the current grade configurations. He noted the District did a lot of research in advance of the 2012 referendum which proposed moving fifth-graders out of the elementary schools. He also said feedback has been positive about the move and that fifth-grade students get programming that couldn't be offered at the elementary schools.

It was also noted moving fifth-graders back to the elementary schools would likely require building three new schools at that level.

The Board was supportive of giving the FPC as much flexibility as possible when looking at solutions. They voted unanimously to allow the FPC to look at all of the suggestions except grade reconfiguration.