How did the District involve the community in this process?
The Board of Education asked the District to establish a Facilities Planning Committee, which met approximately 20 times after its inaugural meeting in September 2016. More than 20 community members were on the FPC. The co-chairs of the FPC also reported regularly to the Board about the committee’s progress.
The District held three community workshops in February that were open to all
residents. Attendees saw a presentation on the options being considered and provided feedback. In addition, a community survey was sent to all District residents, along with MCPASD staff, in April 2018. More than 3,300 individuals completed the survey, which was administered by School Perceptions. The margin of error for all of the results was plus-minus 1.7 percent. The Board has used the results, along with the recommendations from owner Bill Foster, to guide what potential referendum questions would be on the November 2018 ballot.
Did the Facilities Planning Committee consider one large referendum to address needs at all three levels?
The FPC considered options at all three levels with potential costs ranging from under $100 million to $220 million. The survey results indicated approximately 66 percent of respondents favored a referendum up to $130 million and 55 percent favored a referendum up to $160 million. A referendum to address the needs at the elementary, middle and high school levels would cost more than $200 million.
When will the next phase (middle school) be necessary?
Enrollment at the middle school (grades 5-8) level is projected to be slightly more than 200 students over capacity by the 2022-23 school year. The current plans suggested by the FPC ranged from adding space at Glacier Creek to keeping some fifth-graders at a new elementary school to building a new middle school on the site adjacent to Pope Farm Conservancy and just south of the proposed elementary school.
The results of the community survey offered in April were inconclusive about what to do at the middle school level. The community prioritized the space needs at the high school and elementary level on the survey so the referendum will focus on the greatest needs.
However, a future phase will likely include a middle school option to deal with growing enrollment at that level. The District will continue to develop short-term plans to deal with enrollment challenges at the middle school level. There will be a time in the not-too-distant future, whether that is 2, 4 or 6 years, when a referendum will be necessary to address the middle school level.
Did the District consider phasing its facilities plan over time rather than a single referendum?
The options currently being considered constitute Phase 2 of the District’s long-range master facilities plan. Phase 1 occurred after the successful referendum in 2012, when Kromrey was rebuilt and expanded and Glacier Creek was expanded. Phase 3 will take place when the middle school level is addressed again along with other needs.
What is the District’s plan if the referendum doesn’t pass?
The District continues to grow. In the short term if a referendum fails class sizes will increase and spaces not intended to be used for classrooms or other instructional purposes will be repurposed. It would also be necessary for the District to redraw internal boundary lines. The District would also likely go to referendum again in 2019 or 2020. New state statutes limit school districts to two referendum questions annually.
When did the District begin planning for this referendum?
Enrollment discussions involving District officials and the Board of Education take place annually over multiple months. The District knew when the 2012 referendum passed that sustained enrollment growth was likely and increasing capacity in existing buildings or building new schools would be necessary in 5-10 years. The Board of Education asked the District to convene a Facilities Planning Committee made up of community members in August 2016. The FPC met for the first time a month later.
How accurate are the enrollment growth projections being used by the District?
The District hired an independent organization – MD Roffers Consulting – along with using UW-Madison’s Applied Population Lab – to forecast its future enrollment. Each study is confident that based on continued residential development and the attractiveness of the District, MCPASD will continue to have sustained growth over the next decade.
Can the District simply accommodate growing enrollments by increasing class size?
The District has guidelines to determine class sizes at every level. The MCPASD class sizes are, on average, near the middle among all Dane County school districts.
Raising class sizes to accommodate growth presents challenges as well. Many of the current classrooms weren’t built to handle larger numbers of students. Larger class sizes also pose additional challenges for teaching staff and make it tougher for students to get individualized attention.
Can the District relieve pressure from growing enrollments by rejecting non-district resident students attending under Wisconsin’s open enrollment law?
Yes, the District can limit how many open enrollment students it takes annually. The District has limited new open enrollment students for a number of years. There were 106 students – which is about 1.5 percent of the entire K-12 student population -- who open-enrolled in MCPASD from other Districts in 2017-18, which is about 60 students fewer than 2012 when the District last went to referendum.
Referendum FAQs PDF (Updated Sept. 17, 2018)