Annexing more West side students

Why is the MMSD annexing more students on the West side when there’s such a concern about space? What attendance areas include the annexed land? I wonder too about the fiscal impact of adding more students. Will more students lead to more program cuts, so that the additions really become a fiscal drain rather than a fiscal benefit?
I’m not trying to be difficult, I’m genuinely asking why adding students is a good idea. It may be a perfectly good approach, but it just seems odd given the controversy about West side enrollment and overcrowding.
I’ve actually been wondering whether the MMSD shouldn’t give up some kids to other school districts on the West side. In particular, I wonder about the penninsula that feeds into Leopold. Or by contrast, annexing the land and kids who lie between the penninsula and Chavez and building an elementary school in that annexed territory to relieve the overcrowding at Leopold.
I’m not advocating anything, so don’t “bust my chops.” I’m just thinking out loud.

5 thoughts on “Annexing more West side students”

  1. Ed:
    These parcels of land are part of a cooperative agreement between Verona and Middleton-Cross Plains school districts that were agreed upon in 1997, 1998 & 1999.
    The agreement dictates that as the City of Madison annexes land, it will be come part of the MMSD.
    The long-range plan for this district will necessitate building of new schools on the westside including a new high school in 20 years. The enrollment in this district during that timeframe will increase in the upwards of 6,000 students.
    One of the reasons that the district has financial challenges is because the revenue cap penalizes school districts that have flat or declining enrollment. The cap helps districts who’s enrollment is increasing. If Madison has more students, we would be facing as critical of a shortfall than it is now.
    It is important to note that the annexing of this land is important if the MMSD wants to create a more balanced economic district for the future. Madison is already by definition an “Urban” school district. Having more “wealthy” to “middle income” families is important.
    I hope this answers your questions.

  2. Johnny,
    I ‘think’ I get the more students = more state aid.
    Can you explain if there is also a relationship of ‘average household income’ or ‘type of housing’ to state or federal aid? I would think Madison is high on average for overall income but I’m not sure. Is this a factor?

  3. Hi Johnny,
    I appreciate your answer but find that it raises more questions than it answers. Could you please tell me what Long Range Plan for the district you are referring to and when it was approved by the LRP and then the board.
    One of the most confounding aspects of being a citizen advisor to the LRP last year was the complete absence of a long range plan that would be recognizable to most people (power points, slogans, and cartoons are not a long range plan in most public policy settings).
    From what I have seen, there isn’t so much long range planning as there is case by case decision-making. I may, of course, be wrong on this point, so please let me know when the plan was developed, articulated, and adopted, and where I might find a copy.
    Re. the argument of increasing enrollments to balance incomes among district families and to increase aid, I’d like to see the numbers on this. I registered to speak at the last board meeting but had to leave long before it was my turn in the queue. Had I been able to speak, I would have asked the board to hold off on consideration of the annexation requests until there was more information on:
    1) the costs/losses involved in annexing each area, and the costs/losses involved in NOT annexing each area;
    2) the current and projected demographics (including special needs students, income levels, family size, etc.)associated with each area (and yes,MMSD may not use such analyses but demographers can and do such analyses on a regular basis);
    3) the impact on existing schools, K – 12 levels;
    4)the anticipated costs of projected school construction projects on the west side;and,
    5)an assessment of the options and opportunities to relieve enrollments at Leopold by coordinating future west side construction with the Leopold attendance area.
    Again, perhaps such information exists. Having asked for and received the attachments related to the annexation requests, however, it appears that such information was not included in the materials for the most recent board meeting.
    I realize that this seems like nit-picking. That is not the case. I am asking because such questions already are in the public domain. During the lead-up to the May referendum, there were numerous questions about why Fitchburg and Verona students would be in the Madison school district. The questions can still be seen in the archives of posts to on-line forums connected with local media. I also heard this question asked in several public forums on the referendums, and in personal conversations with friends who were trying to make sense of the Leopold question.
    The questions that I am asking will be there whether or not I post this response to the blog. I raise them here because someone needs to start thinking about answers that will make sense to the voters who are following district practices.

  4. Lucy and Ed,
    These are good questions but I’m not so sure the board/district are the ones with the power to state that MMSD does or does not want to support these areas. We should also make sure that these parcels are for housing development and not commercial or other use within city limits.
    Correct me if I’m wrong, I am under the impression that the City of Madison, not the school board/administration, determines the municipalities annexed….
    There are meetings being held around our city for the Comprehensive Plan of Madison. Our neighborhood association published two that will happen on the west-side. Visit:
    June 14th: 6-8 pm Alicia Ashliman Branch Library
    June 23rd: 5:30-7:30 Sequoya Branch Library
    Another factor to remember when discussing a possible combining of Leopold with far west-side growth: Leopold/Fitchburg (at least 25 miles from far west-side growth) is the West attendance area while these far west side locations are Memorial attendance. Homeowners purchase based on this information.

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